Angela Baker is a coach, an athlete and a two-time world champion in women's tackle football. Above all, Baker is a pioneer.
On August 7, 2022, Baker and her Team USA teammates defeated Great Britain, 42-14, as she won her second consecutive International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championship. The event, a three-day tournament held in Finland this year, provided a backdrop for the reigning world champions to defend their title. "We celebrated as a team, but women's football celebrated across the board," Baker shared on Her Playbook podcast, hosted by Madelyn Burke. Baker continued, "All eight countries came together to celebrate another amazing tournament and just the continued evolution of women's football."
During Game III in Finland, Baker led Team USA to a 28-10 win over Team Finland, recording six receptions for 35 yards. In the World Championship Game, Baker added three receptions for 36 yards.
Prior to her second IFAF title, Baker said she was "stoked" to be representing the United States. "There's nothing better," she beamed during a July training camp interview in Canton, Ohio.
As the inaugural recipient of the New York Giants' Rosie Brown Minority Coaching fellowship, Baker serves as an offensive quality control coach. The fellowship, named for the legendary Giants Hall of Fame tackle who was named to nine Pro Bowls and selected All-NFL eight consecutive seasons, offers Baker the opportunity to work with offensive players by analyzing film and conducting statistical analysis.
Baker's position is incredibly rewarding work. "The offensive quality control position is actually really important. It's kind of the behind-the-scenes type thing. Breaking down a lot of the film, opponent scouts, stuff like that is a big factor. But then really being able to do anything that the offensive side of the ball needs from me." On a daily basis, she told Burke, "I do our practice data input. I do our completion data charts, so track what the quarterbacks' decisions are on the field, keep all that information and data and put it into a spreadsheet for the quarterback coach and then the coordinators. Help with the practice data input afterwards, so anything we run at practice has to match up with the film that we use, so that way the coaches understand exactly what they're supposed to be looking at. Sitting in on a lot of meetings, listening in on things, and then I'm fortunate for my position I get to help out with the tight ends as well; so, learning from Coach Bischoff anytime I'm in there when there's position meetings, I'm in those meetings with him and kind of getting to learn the position side of it as well."
Prior to her current role with the Giants, Baker was with the Cleveland Browns for three weeks in the spring of 2020 where she took part in the NFL's Bill Walsh Diversity Coach Fellowship Program. Under offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, Baker analyzed film to finetune the team's quarterback play.
When the pandemic hit, Baker's season with the Pittsburgh Passion women's tackle football team was cut short. She was in the midst of finishing her bachelor's degree online when an opportunity presented itself to join the Browns virtually. Baker was an aspiring teacher, and the mentorship element of coaching appealed to her strongly. "It's easier to stay away from playing when you're around it every single day," Baker said of her early experience as a coach. COVID-19 impacted both the 2020 and 2021 seasons for the Pittsburgh Passion, and Baker found herself on the coaching staff at the University of Redlands (CA) after her time with the Browns.
Baker attributes some of her success as an athlete and a wide receiver to her work with the Giants. "My relationship with the New York Giants has definitely helped me in this situation and vice versa," she shared at Team USA training camp. Baker continued, "I've had their full support, being able to learn from some of the greatest minds in football and being around the athletes and learning tricks of the trade from these NFL players, NFL coaches and NFL staff. Getting in a little bit of work with them before I came here for the IFAF world championships in Finland, taking little bits and pieces of what they've taught and putting my own twist on it, it's going to make me a better player in this championship for sure."
Baker and Laura Young, the team's Director of Coaching Operations, are the first women to serve as full-time coaches for the Giants. As a woman in a predominately male space, Baker was candid when asked what advice she would offer her younger self: "Just break through that glass ceiling, and just keep on climbing. The sky is the limit, and we can just do anything that we set our heart to. Keep working hard, and you can achieve it."
Baker aims to help shatter the stigma around women in coaching positions. In the next five to 10 years, she hopes that seeing women in coaching positions is the "new normal" and not "as much as a big focal point."
"I myself want to be treated as equal," Baker told. "I don't want to be treated as the token woman involved in any team or organization. I just want to be treated the same as everybody else and just be a coach without that female title. I think we're on the right path."