Area college notebook: Holy Cross mourns death of former cornerback Damion Baker

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Former Holy Cross defensive back Damion Baker is being mourned by coaches and teammates after his passing.
Former Holy Cross defensive back Damion Baker is being mourned by coaches and teammates after his passing.

The Holy Cross football program is mourning the death of Damion Baker, a former Crusaders cornerback and 2019 HC graduate.

Baker was killed in a double shooting early Sunday morning in St. Louis, his hometown. He was 25.

“He was just a bright, intelligent football player and a good young man overall,” said Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney, who took over at HC before Baker’s senior season.

Baker’s death was part of a violent Fourth of July weekend across the country. According to a CBS News report, more than 220 were shot and killed in U.S. gun violence over the holiday weekend.

“It was a senseless act, obviously,” Chesney said, “and it leaves so many people empty and sad and wishing that was not the moment or world we live in.”

Holy Cross' Damion Baker breaks up a pass intended for Boston College's Ray Marten during a game in 2018.
Holy Cross' Damion Baker breaks up a pass intended for Boston College's Ray Marten during a game in 2018.

Chesney said he spoke with Akeem Walcott, also a former Holy Cross defensive back and one of Baker’s classmates, and several other of Baker’s HC teammates.

“They’re really struggling with it,” Chesney said. “It’s the first time they’ve gone through something like this with someone so close. The collective group of them is searching for ‘whys,’  and there are not many that are easy to find.”

At Holy Cross, Baker played in 41 games and recorded 98 tackles, 15 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions. Baker helped lead his high school, Christian Brothers College in St. Louis, to an undefeated season and state championship during his senior year.

HC promotes Alfonso

Holy Cross promoted longtime women’s track and field coach Egetta Alfonso to the position of Richard L. Ahern ’51 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field. Alfonso, who has coached the women’s track and field team for 23 years and is a former HC star athlete, is just the second person to hold the title. She replaces Jim Kavanagh, who retired this spring after coaching at Holy Cross for 52 years. Alfonso will oversee the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs. “Holy Cross has now been an integral part of over half of my life,” Alfonso, a 1992 HC graduate, said. “Thirty years ago, when I stepped onto the Holy Cross campus as a student-athlete for the first time, I would never have imagined that I’d be the Richard L. Ahern ’51 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field. I’m so honored to be following in the footsteps of my friend and mentor, Jim Kavanagh.” … Mike Lucas, who served as Holy Cross women’s tennis coach for 18 years, recently retired from the position to focus on his duties as superintendent of Oxford Public Schools, which he began last year. Lucas coached the HC women’s team from 1999-2009 and 2014-22. He guided the 2002-03 team to an 18-2 record and the New England Championship. Lucas coached the HC men’s tennis team from 2002-09. … Former Assumption men’s soccer coach Chris Payne has joined the HC men’s staff as an assistant. In 2019, Payne guided the Greyhounds to their first Northeast-10 Conference title.

Assumption adds two sports

Assumption recently announced the expansion of its athletics department with the addition of women’s ice hockey and men’s swimming as varsity sports. Last week, the women’s ice hockey team accepted an invitation to become the eighth member of the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance. The NCAA Division 1 conference also includes Franklin Pierce, Long Island University, Post University, Sacred Heart, St. Anselm, St. Michael’s and Stonehill.

The Greyhounds will begin administratively in the 2022-23 season, and in 2023-24 will compete in the NEWHA regular season and league playoffs and will be eligible for the NEWHA automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

The team will practice and play at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. Jack Sweeney, who serves as coach for the Blue & White Sports women’s ice hockey team, will coach the varsity squad.

Cameron Dwyer will coach the men’s swimming team, which will begin competing in the Northeast-10 Conference in 2023-24.

Nichols tabs Mogel for women's soccer post

Nichols named Angel Mogel its women’s soccer coach. Mogel previously coached the girls’ soccer teams at West Boylston High and Wachusett Regional. Mogel founded Wentworth’s women’s soccer program in 1997 and coached the Leopards for 15 seasons. She later served as Wentworth’s director of athletics for five years. Mogel was an All-American player at Springfield and is a member of the college’s hall of fame. … Congratulations to WPI associate athletic director Ann McCarron, who recently entered the Quincy High Women’s Athletic Hall of Fame. McCarron, who is in her 11th year at WPI, starred in basketball and softball at Quincy.

—Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenTolandTG.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Holy Cross mourns death of former cornerback Damion Baker