It is a rare thing for three siblings to go to the same college. It is an even rarer thing for three siblings to go to the same college and all participate in sports.
Ashleigh ('21), Anna ('23), and Alexis Baker ('24) are three sisters who have done just that.
Covenant Athletics - A Family Tradition
Growing up in Naples, Fla., the Baker girls knew a lot about Covenant. Their mother, Jennifer (Morris) Baker, and their aunt, Jill Morris, both attended Covenant. Jennifer played on the women's soccer club team for the Scots from 1990-93.
Needless to say, the mountain was a familiar place for the Baker family.
Ashleigh became the first Baker sibling to attend Covenant in the fall of 2017, as a member of the cross country and track teams.
"I chose to come to Covenant because I wanted to be in a Christian community and be able to run," said Ashleigh.
Now a senior, Ashleigh has racked up two All-USA South honorable mention awards and become a leader on the team. She recorded two top-10 finishes during the 2019 season.
Ashleigh's younger sister, Anna, also was a runner and was the next Baker to choose Covenant as her new home.
"The fact that my older sister was already here and my younger sister wanted to come to Covenant definitely played a factor in my decision," emphasized Anna. "I also chose Covenant because I wanted to go to a college where the classes and environment would prepare me for life after college, and my professors would encourage me in my relationship with Christ and help me grow in my understanding and knowledge of Him.
"I also was excited about going to Covenant because I would have the opportunity to run track and be on the team with my sister in the spring."
As a freshman last season, Anna made her mark on the track team. She participated in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump, becoming the first Covenant female athlete to compete in that event. Anna currently holds the program records for both those events and earned USA South All-Academic honors as well.
After getting two Bakers, what was one more?
Alexis is the last Baker sibling to choose Covenant, coming in as a freshman this year. Although she deviates from her sisters as she is a member of the women's tennis team.
"I chose Covenant because of the Christ-centered culture and feeling of home," said Alexis. "I wanted to go somewhere where I would be known and not just another number. I love how the professors have personal relationships with the students and how the coaches take a personal interest in me as well.
Sibling Athletes Not So Unusual at Covenant
Even though student-athlete siblings are a rare occurrence, it does not seem to be so at Covenant. In fact, over the years, several groups of siblings have played for the Scots.
The softball program had two sets of twins on the team from 2015-18 in Jami ('18) and Joni Johnson ('18), and Tyler ('18) and Shade Epes ('18). The baseball team also had a set of brothers, Daniel ('18) and Joel Johnson ('18). In men's soccer, current sophomore Aaron Riggs followed his All-American brother, Jesse ('20), sharing one year on the team together. For the women's soccer team, Summer Bader ('17) and Callie Bader ('18) shared a couple of years on the pitch as well.
Surprisingly, the Bakers are not the only trio of sisters to participate in athletics at Covenant.
The Moore sisters -- Ginny ('18), Schuyler ('19), and Emily ('21) -- played together for two years and were standout members of the volleyball team and helped lead the Scots to the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
These are just a few of the many occurrences of siblings playing alongside each other over the history of Covenant athletics.
Sisters Growing in Christ Together
Now that all three Baker girls are at Covenant, they credit the school with helping them grow closer to Christ and to each other. Being so far away from home in Florida, they value the time they get to spend together on the mountain as family and as teammates.
As the newest Baker to step foot on the mountain, Alexis believes that Covenant has made her more intentional about making time to spend with her sisters:
"It has been really cool for us all to be in the same stage of life experiencing the same things. Being at Covenant together has made us much closer because we all trust and respect each other and value each other's opinions."
Anna and Ashleigh echo their sister's sentiments, and as upperclassmen are thankful for the impact Covenant has had on them.
"Covenant is important to me because of all the experiences I've had here as well as the relationships that I've built," said Anna. "Being at Covenant has also encouraged growth in my relationship with Christ as I see the godly examples modeled by my professors and coach, as well as the ways that He has worked in the lives of my friends."
Ashleigh, who will graduate in the spring of 2021, shared similar thoughts.
"Covenant is important to me because it has brought me so many good friends and challenged me to grow in my faith. It has brought my sisters and me closer because it's another shared experience. Since we are so far from home, it's nice to have some family close."
Undoubtedly, the rich history of siblings becoming Scots makes Covenant a unique place to play.
When the teams say they are like family, they mean it. Often literally.
Top photo: The Bakers (L-R): Alexis, Anna, and Ashleigh (photo credit: Emma Grimes/Sports
Article originally published Nov. 6, 2020 on athletics.covenant.edu.