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South Valley Riverton Journal

Baird takes over at Summit Academy

May 07, 2018 01:45PM ● By Greg James

The new Summit Academy boys basketball coach is Jeff Baird. He has 24 years of experience with some of the best coaches in the state of Utah. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Baird)

By Greg James |  [email protected]            

A new head basketball coach is set to take over at Summit Academy High School.

Jeff Baird has been hired as the Bears’ new boys basketball coach. He will be replacing the retiring Evric Gray.

“I am not sure what to expect yet at Summit,” Baird said. “I know we have a pretty young team coming back next year. That will be fun to see how we can grow and build. I hope that we will really be good defensively, and I want us to play very unselfishly on offense. Those are always my top priorities as a coach.”

Baird comes to Summit Academy with 24 years of experience working as an assistant coach to some of the best high school coaches in the state of Utah. Most recently he spent two years on the bench at Brighton High School with Garrett Wilson.

He also coached at Judge Memorial High School with Dan DelPorto and the winningest coaches in state history, Jim Yerkovich, who amassed 634 victories in 44 years at Judge. He won three state championships and was nationally recognized for his team values.

“I like to have my team play hard-nose man-to-man defense and pass the ball around on offense,” Baird said. “I have been lucky to work under three great coaches. At my previous schools, I have done everything that could be done. I ran camps, coached development teams, and did offseason conditioning and skill work.”

The core values that Baird discussed with the team at his recent meet-and-greet include four principles: being in the community representing the school; being in the classroom actively participating; giving complete effort on the court; and becoming a great teammate. 

“At Judge, we had what we called a ‘we’ philosophy that I bring with me,” he said. “We found that if you can devote yourself to something bigger than yourself, that is really how you find happiness, whether it is a team or church or country. When the players become unselfish through athletics, it will become easier when they are in the real world.”

Gray stepped down in March to pursue other interests. His tenure include the school’s first state championship in 2016 when they finished 23-4. He won 87 games and lost 61 in his six years as head coach. The team also won two region championships.

This past season, the team finished with a 13-9 overall record in second place in Region 13. Isaiah Green led the team in scoring by averaging 14.6 points per game.

Current senior Jay Gilson, a 6-foot-7-inch forward, signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Pierce College in Washington. He averaged 10 points per game and was the Bears’ leading rebounder.

Baird hopes to encourage the younger students at the Summit Academy feeder schools to continue their education at the high school.

“One of the things that impressed me and drew me to Summit was the importance of academics,” he said. “As an English teacher, I know the classroom is very important.”