Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Former WAC Board Officially Steps Down as Rebuilding Process Begins

Harold Baker was officially reinstated as the head coach of WAC. (file photo)
Harold Baker was officially reinstated as the head coach of WAC. (File Photo)

Williamsburg Aquatic Club officially has a new Board of Directors in place after the old board signed a full release and settlement agreement to step down from the club and hand over management to the new group Tuesday.

Rebecca Cristol, president of the old Board of Directors who was voted out by a quorum of WAC members on Aug. 30, declined to comment about the decision.

With the new Board of Directors in place, Harold Baker was officially reinstated as the head coach of WAC two days prior to the beginning of WAC’s fall session on Sept. 10.

Chris Gann, the new president of the WAC Board of Directors, said Baker will assume the same roles he had before he was terminated by the previous Board of Directors on July 28.

When asked whether the club would take into account complaints the former board received about Baker from WAC’s top-tier swimmers, Gann said the board is putting its faith in Baker’s abilities as a coach but will do what is best for the club.

“We’ll be evaluating the club as a whole and make the right decisions based around our vision,” Gann said. “Obviously we will look at everything and evaluate everything, but we have full confidence in Coach Baker, who has coached 37 years.”

Gann said the club is planning on allowing Baker to handle the “wet” side of things, meaning issues related to coaching and swimming practices, while the Board of Directors handles the “dry” issues, which includes finances and policymaking.

“This Board will work on establishing a good relationship with the coaching staff so we work together and not against each other,” Gann said.

With the new Board of Directors — which, along with Gann, includes Vice President Felicia Brown-Anderson, Secretary Chris Harrison, Member-at-Large Jenny Olsen and Appointed Treasurer Richard Hill — officially in place, the new board will begin combing through the finances of the club and check for any negative effects from the monthlong drama.

Gann said the new Board of Directors plans to meet for the first time Wednesday, but thinks the club is on solid financial footing based on preliminary evaluations.

“Our numbers are good, and we have parents ready to step up and volunteer,” Gann said. “I think from the feedback I’ve gotten, there’s some momentum and rejuvenation. We think as challenging as it was, we have momentum now and we’ll be able to use that.”

Though Gann said he would address concerns from prospective families as they arise, he said he wants WAC’s results and legacy to do the talking.

“The success WAC has had recently and over the past 30 years — it’s an excellent club and a lot of good people are a part of the club,” he said. “We have a great coaching staff who put swimmers first.”

Baker, who has seldom spoken publicly about his firing or WAC’s turmoil, gave a brief comment in a news release sent out by the new Board of Directors on Tuesday.

“We are glad to have this behind us and we can now move forward to do what we do best, coach all levels of swimmers,” Baker said.

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