GRAY — Daniel Boone will soon be searching for a new volleyball coach.

On Friday, the school announced that Chelsea Baker — who has been at the program’s helm the last eight years — is taking a leave of absence.

“It was really just a lot of stress,” said Baker, who starred for Gate City during her playing days. “Volleyball has consumed my life for the last 15 years from playing in high school, college and coaching as soon as I got out. I have an 18-month-old and she’s starting to walk and talk now, so I wanted to be there for that. I feel like I’ve already missed out on so much. I started praying and thinking about it during the quarantine and I knew that it was time for a break.”

Last season, Baker took Boone from the bottom of the Big 6 Conference to the district tournament championship and the first state bid in 21 years.

“Kelly Aubrey has been at my side from the beginning and we’ve taken it from nothing,” Baker said. “In my first year, we didn’t win a conference game and to see where it is now in eight years is awesome and I hope it’s kept at a high level.”

This season, the Lady Trailblazers won the program’s first Class AAA conference championship and first of any kind since 1995.

“Coach Baker has consistently developed the athletic abilities of players during her eight-year tenure with the volleyball program,” Boone athletic director Danny Good said in a release. “She has been able to successfully lead her teams to the highest levels of athletic play in regional, conference, district and state contests.

“Under Coach Baker’s strong leadership, the volleyball team won the district championship and competed at the state tournament in 2019, won a conference title in 2020, and competed in three regional tournaments.

“As an athletic department, we could ask of nothing else beyond what Coach Baker has achieved. Above all accomplishments on the playing court, Coach Baker has helped mold the future of her players by providing many opportunities for athletic scholarships in the collegiate setting. Coach Baker is, and will always remain, an integral part of the Boone family.”

You can reach Tanner by email at tcook@johnsoncitypress.com.

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