Rice University Owls track runner Catherine Baker Nicholson
Rice Athletic Hall of Fame
Black and white photograph of Rice University Owls track and field athlete Catherine Baker Nicholson, class of 1981, headlining her achievement into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. Caption reads: When Catherine Baker Nicholson is asked to what she attributes her success on the track, she most likely responds, “It must be in the genes”. You see her father, Walter Thane Baker, is a four-time Olympic medalist. Thane won the gold at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games in the 4 X 100-meter relay, silver in the 100 meters, and a bronze in the 200 meters. Four years earlier he won the silver in the 200 meters. And daughter Catherine shared in her father’s love of track and desire to excel. In fact, both Catherine Baker and Thane Baker will be sharing the magnificent honor of being inducted into their respective school’s athletic hall of fames in the same month. Catherine Baker accepts her prestigious induction from Rice this event, while her father was one of the eight inaugural inductees into the Kansas State Hall of Fame earlier this month in Manhattan. Catherine Baker came to Rice University in 1978 not knowing if there was a women’s track team. During her freshman season she participated in intramurals for Brown College. The following year Rice sported a women’s track squad and Catherine lettered. But it wasn’t until her junior season when Victor Lopez was hired as women’s track coach that thing started happening. Even though he was receiving only part-time salary, Lopez spent all of his time with the team. He designed a workout program for each runner and watched over them night and day. The hard work paid off in Baker’s senior season (1981) as the team placed sixth nationally in AIAW Division II competition. Catherine was national champion in the 800 meters in 1981 in Division II, qualifying her for the Division I meet where she placed fifth. She still has the fourth-best 800 time in school history with her 2:07.34 time at the AIAW Division I Championships May 29, 1981 in College Station. She is married to Lt. Commander Charles “Chuck” Louis Nicholson (B.S., mechanical engineering, Rice, ’81) and lives with her husband and soon-to-be-one year old son, William Thorbjorn Nicholson. Catherine Baker Nicholson received her Rice B.A. (history) in 1981 and a doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law in 1985. She just recently finished a clerkship with the Honorable Peter W. Bowie, Bankruptcy Judge, Southern District of California. Her present work plans will be put on hold, however, as she and her family move to Monterrey, Calif. while her husband pursues his master’s degree in electrical engineering. One of the pioneers of the Rice women’s track team, probably the most successful Owl team of the past decade, Catherine Baker Nicholson, is a deserving member of the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame. And she is equally proud that her shining moment tonight will be shared by her family, and two guiding forces during her athletic career, her father, Walter Thane Baker, and her Rice coach, Victor Lopez.
Citable link to this pagehttps://hdl.handle.net/1911/64013
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