Volleyball captain Cheyenne Baird leads on and off the court

Volleyball player Baird

Between attending school, playing volleyball, and working at a coffee shop, Cheyenne Baird’s typical week is extremely busy. Despite her demanding schedule, she also manages to volunteer in the community and serve on multiple college athletics leadership committees.

Baird became interested in Evergreen when she was recruited by women’s volleyball coach Angela Spoja. After touring the campus, sitting in on a class, and practicing with the team, she decided Evergreen was the place for her. “I just really liked the structure of the school and everything it offered,” said Baird, who is studying education.

Cheyenne Baird portrait

Volleyball player Cheyenne Baird. Portrait by Shauna Bittle, The Evergreen State College.

Baird plays defensive specialist and libero for the women’s volleyball team. She is also the team captain, a role she has occupied since her junior year.

Baird’s accomplishments as a student-athlete reach beyond the volleyball court. She joined Evergreen’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as a first-year student. Now, as a senior, she is not only the chair of that committee, but also the chair of the SAAC for the entire Cascade Conference.

Last spring, while serving as vice-chair of the Cascade Conference’s SAAC, Baird had the opportunity to travel to San Diego, where she presented information about the committee in front of hundreds of students and athletics directors.

After the trip, Baird met with Cascade Conference Commissioner Rob Cashell. “I decided I wanted to get involved on another level,” she said. A week later, Baird got word that Cashell had nominated her for the Association of Student-Athletes, the national committee that serves as the voice of student-athletes across the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

A month or so after being nominated, Baird was awarded the position, making her the first student in the history of Evergreen to serve on the ASA board. As a member, Baird has been able to participate in legislative decisions in the Cascade Conference, which she calls “a really powerful experience.”

Baird, who has been volunteering since she was a child, has managed to keep up her work in the community while at Evergreen. “Everyone is busy, we have a lot of homework, we have sports, but it’s always been something that’s really important for me to find the time to do,” she said. Recently, much of her work has been through the Special Olympics, an organization that provides training and competitions for disabled athletes. 

Working with disabled athletes has given Baird a new perspective on athletics. “It’s a really cool experience because they’re just so happy we’re there and to talk to us,” she said. “It really opens your eyes to how lucky we are. Sometimes we don’t realize as student-athletes the power and ability we have to impact a community.”

One moment that stands out to Baird from her time as a volunteer came this past summer while volunteering at a Special Olympics softball tournament. While there, she reunited with a disabled athlete she had befriended several months earlier. She remembers how ecstatic he was to see her again, wanting to take a picture together and for her to watch his game. “It was kind of at that moment that I felt like ‘I am making a difference in people lives’ and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Baird.

During her time at Evergreen, Baird has impacted both the school itself and the surrounding community. “I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be a student-athlete at Evergreen,” she said. “I have learned so much and met so many truly amazing people. Evergreen has really changed my life.”

The Evergreen Women’s Volleyball Team has two home games left this season in Costantino Recreation Center. Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Southern Oregon University and Saturday, October 28 vs. Oregon Institute of Technology at 7:00 p.m.

Game photo courtesy Joshua Wetmore, University of Providence.