Share Your Story: Margaret Baker, M.D.
Sept. 18, 2006
Margaret Baker, M.D.
I attended Penn State University and earned four varsity letters in softball from 1978-1982. At that time, Penn State was an independent but later joined the proud heritage of the Big Ten Conference. I was recruited during the first year that athletic scholarships were offered for softball at Penn State.
Nowadays, sports scholarships for women seem commonplace. But in the late 1970s, when Title IX was just beginning to be instituted, few scholarships for women athletes were available. My first coach at Penn State, Pat McTarsney, was given three full-ride scholarships for her whole team that year. The NCAA did not include women's athletics back then. In the 25-plus years since then, women's college sports have obviously come a long way!
At ball practice my first day on campus as a freshman, I remember thinking, "Wow, these gals are all incredible athletes." My high school team had won the Michigan 4-A State Championship and included many all-stars, but this was certainly playing at another level.
At Penn State, I was also incredibly impressed with how much academics were stressed and supported. I met Joe Paterno, who was our athletic director at the time. Joe told my team during a meeting that we were "student-athletes, and student comes before athlete." I majored in pre-medicine, and graduated with honors, before going on to Georgetown University School of Medicine where I graduated in 1986. My experience at Penn State piqued my interest in sports medicine, so I did my residency in orthopedic surgery. After spending 13 years in the United States Air Force, where I had the opportunity to do everything from sports medicine to combat casualty care, I am in private practice in Washington State.
The tradition of blending academic excellence and sportsmanship that Penn State and the Big Ten have always supported has certainly served me well over time. I will always cherish my memories of college and the friends I made there. More than championships and trophies, what has helped carry me through life and career are the principals of discipline, time management and balance, which I learned well as a student-athlete at Penn State.