Baker and Malia

Alvin High School athletic trainers Samantha Baker (left) and Carly Malia have worked previously with the Houston Dash women's professional soccer team and the NFL's Houston Texans.  (Staff photo by Stephen Collins)

Tim Teykl calls them “pistols” for the contagious energy they each bring to the table.

However, the Alvin Yellowjacket head football coach is also quick to cite the significance of having both Samantha Baker and Carly Malia on the high school program’s athletic training staff at the same time.

“The instantaneous factor that we have two females here is real cool,” Teykl said. “In the profession I grew up in, very few people had trainers and then had trainers that were mostly male. I had old timers. I had Billy Pickard (Texas A&M), Frank Medina (University of Texas), Elmer Brown (TCU), Bobby Gunn (Houston Oilers, Lamar Consolidated ISD), Wayne Rideout (Bryan HS) and Mike O’Shea (University of Houston). All are in the NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association) Hall of Fame.

“There were all males (at one time), but now we have females in those roles (around the country). Kudos to the women for breaking down barriers.”

Teykl also praised the professional experience component both individuals possess in the industry. Baker has served as the head athletic trainer for the Houston Dash pro women’s soccer team and as the outreach athletic trainer for Houston Methodist Hospital, while Malia has worked with the Houston Texans.

“Carly was with the Texans and she garnered a lot of respect there,” Teykl said. “She’s also a certified strength and conditioning coach and that goes a long way in my book. Basically she was the boss of the (Texans) defensive line. Each group has a trainer. She also handled one the most marquee athletes in Houston history in J.J. Watt.

“With the covid hitting, that’s right up Sam’s alley, because she works with the hospitals. She brings significance to the things we’re doing like the mask and socially distancing. I hold between those two, (head athletic trainer) Ernie (Garza) and Rory (Blevins), I feel comfortable and safe. I guarantee if someone goes down, we have the best in the world with their training and expertise.”

Baker, 30, has been on the AHS staff for 2 1/2 years. After completing her undergrad work at the University of Oklahoma, Baker got her masters at Texas A&M University, working with the Aggie football, soccer and volleyball programs, along with one of the high schools in the area.

The next trail led to LSU with Baker using her graduate assistant tenure at the institution to work with the track and field and men’s tennis team programs.

Baker cited the school’s atmosphere as the reason for choosing Alvin as her next stop following the stint with Houston Methodist.

“The amount of resources we have here are really great,” Baker said. “We’re really fortunate that we’re able to run our programs like a small college. The athletic department really values us as athletic trainers and it means there is a need for us.”

Malia, 28, got her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and strength and conditioning at the University of Delaware, while initially meeting Teykl during her graduate stint at the University of Houston.

“I’ve loved every second of it,” said Malia, who joined the AHS staff for upcoming school year. “When I was with the Texans, I got to learn the day to day operations of a major football organization. It made me better, a lot tougher and super organized. Once my time was up there, I had to start thinking where I wanted to be to help flourish career and I found Alvin.

“From where I am up north (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), high school football is a decent deal, but it’s definitely not like it is in Texas. To experience the high school (football) level in Texas is really cool to me.”

The duo’s tenures on the professional circuits each came with an awe for the experience and also getting to know the athletes on a more personal level.

“The crazy thing to me about working professional sports is you almost expect yourself to be blown away by the people,” Malia said. “They’re incredible athletes. You watch them move and it’s like something you’ve never seen. But you realize they’re normal people like you and I.

“For me, it was just getting to know the guys on a human level. Their defensive line was great with me and their coach was fantastic. They made every day fun and it was just part of learning to work with something that was bigger than yourself. You also learn how to work in a high stress environment and navigate different situations, because the stakes are high at that level.”

Baker: “Working with professional athletes obviously requires a lot of hours and high expectations, but I think it’s the bond you are able to create with those athletes. Like the Dash, you only have 30 girls, so it’s becomes a real tight knit group because you are with each other for so many hours.”

The pair are spending many hours, as well, to make sure things are flowing smoothly daily at the AHS Field House during the current Covid-19 situation.

“You definitely learn to think about little things you have never thought about before,” Malia said. “What door knobs are they touching and them not using the water fountains and not sharing water bottles. All these different moving parts that go into our daily lives.

“The biggest piece is the uncertainly. No one knows where we’re going to be tomorrow or next week. It definitely takes someone who is able to roll with the punches.”

Baker said a typical day now for the AT staff involves overseeing the coaches, as they are checking in the kids and putting out any “fires” or situations that quickly come to their attention.

“I don’t think it’s been a hard adjustment, because we’re taking a lot of the necessary precautions,” Baker said. “I feel like we are only amping things up more, trying to play a part and remind kids to stay socially distanced and wear masks.

“Preparing these kids and limiting their exposure the best way we can. That’s what it ultimately comes down to. Try to limit their exposure, so we can play sports.”

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