Raider standout Cara Baker hits the field at Fenway to accept scholarship.
TORRINGTON: If digging in deeper to find something most missed were a sport, West Virginia University bound Cara Baker would certainly be a top contestant.
The Raider three-sport star found herself standing on the field at a place she had only dreamed about until that point with the opportunity coming about because of her own persistence and determination.
If you saw her picture, smiling brightly from the field at Fenway Park on Tuesday, July 31, it was clear this was one of those moments she will never forget.
Baker had applied and gotten an award from her team, the Boston Red Sox, called the New England Red Sox Service Scholarship, worth $1000 dollars.
The example of how she got it should be lesson for future seniors at THS as they look to help pay for their college education.
“I was looking through the Torrington High Schools guidance’s scholarship webpage,” Baker said. “There is a place where most students don’t look but also the same place that most of my scholarships came from, and I came across it, and applied.”
There was work to be done first though, and the standards to apply were strict.
“The criteria for this application was good academic standing,” Baker said. “A lot of community service (not a certain number of hours, but it was helpful to have many), and an essay about the question, “How has your community service defined who you are and influenced your plans for the future?”, a well written letter of recommendation, and financial need.”
Even once she got the application out to the Sox organization, her expectations were low.
“I absolutely did not think I was going to get it,” Baker said. “After I applied and thought I was the only one to come across it, the guidance counselors started to hand out the scholarships to other students who were just as qualified as me.”
Then one day this spring, an answer.
“I was in the middle of track practice when I got the call, so I didn’t see it until later.” Baker said. “It was from a number I didn’t recognize, so I automatically assumed it was a telemarketer. I listened to the voice message they had left, and they stated they were from Boston and congratulated me for receiving the scholarship. I was SO surprised, I ran downstairs to tell my family and called my brother who lives in Boston.”
Like a kid on Christmas Eve, Baker could not wait for the day to come and most assuredly made sure she was going to be on time.
“The day of the game was so thrilling.” Baker said. “I got to the Boston way too early, about two hours before I needed to be there. I stopped at my brothers place to drop my things off and took the “T” to Fenway. All the scholars met at Gate E where they brought us in and gave us a free bat with our names engraved to take on the field with us and then to take home.”
It got better from there.
“They brought us out onto the field during the Phillies batting practice,” Baker said. “And we were standing on the field for about an hour. The TV announcer came to each of us, asked the pronunciation of our names and schools, and gave us the instructions for the night. During the ceremony, the cameras came to each of us and had us “smile and wave” as they broadcasted it onto the Jumbotron. We were then sent to our seats to enjoy the game.”
Once it was over, how was the experience?
“It was amazing.” Baker said. “Being a Sox fan my whole life, I had been to many games before, never close to the field. Being able to stand on it and walk out to home plate was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Baker was one of eight honorees at the Torrington Varsity Alumni Club banquet on Sunday night where she received an additional $1000-dollar check from the group.
A soccer, Indoor and Outdoor Track star for the Raiders, Baker heads on top the next portion of her journey at the end of this week at West Virginia.
She will though, bring with her some bragging rights about being at home plate at a place she has rooted for her team for years.