Track coach recruits California athletes


Lily Stephens

Head Track and Field Coach Ryan Pitts helps athletes at practice. Pitts has recruited numerous athletes from his home state of California to compete at Baker.

Going into his fourth season as the head coach of Baker’s track and field team, Ryan Pitts continues to successfully build and develop the program. His California background has attracted a significant number of athletes, creating a pipeline between his home state and Baker University.

With Baker being his alma mater, Pitts understood the process behind getting recruited, and what it takes to bring in talent not only from Kansas, but outside states as well. Pitts looks to his home state of California to pursue future Baker track and field athletes. The roster currently has 13 athletes originating from California.

Within his four short years as the head of the coaching staff, Pitts has reached several milestones including:

  • 2016 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Men’s Outdoor Track & Field South Central Region Coach of the Year
  • 2015 men’s and women’s and 2016 men’s Heart of America conference champions in indoor and outdoor track
  • Several individual national appearances

These achievements reflect on the talent of the student athletes that he has recruited, including the significant numbers brought in from California.

The connections Pitts made during his time in California gave him resources to reach out to when looking for prospective athletes.

Junior Fabien Franck-Love from Gardena, California, commented on his recruitment experience.

“Pitts knew my coach really well, so with that, I knew I could trust his coaching,” Franck-Love said.

Because of the established relationships Pitts brought in from his past, athletes like Franck-Love were able to confide in his coaching and make Baker their home. He reached out to athletes demonstrating the close environment that Baker offers.

According to freshman Sais Ruiz from Reseda, California, the initiative that Pitts displayed in going to measures such as flying out to meet recruits, makes the transition from California to Baldwin City, Kansas, more comfortable. Knowing the difficulties that are associated with going to college out of state, Pitts is able to connect with potential California recruits in the most effective manner.

“I emailed Coach Pitts and he flew to California, and we met and I decided to come to Baker,” Ruiz said.

Pitts confirms the relationships that he has been able to establish stem from access to high schools and junior colleges in the area.

“Being from California absolutely helps me find potential recruits,” Pitts said. “I have great relationships with a lot of coaches at the high school and JC [junior college] level who are always contacting me about potential recruits because there are always so many.”

With the aid of his connections, Pitts continues to recruit throughout the state taking advantage of the surplus of talent the area has to offer.

“One of the main reason I recruit heavily in California is the level of talent,” Pitts said. “The caliber of talent in Cali is sky high, but since there are so many kids in the state, a lot of them are overlooked because there are so many.”

As he continues his career at Baker, Pitts continues to reach out to his home state. Pitts is proud of the athletes that make up his team.

”We run a solid program here, and kids want to continue to develop and improve,” Pitts said.

Each athlete recruited reflects the hard work Pitts has put into building the team. Pitts’ pipeline brings together his past and present— California track and field athletes pursuing their dreams as a college athlete through his alma mater, Baker University.