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Sports >  High school sports

Following in her dad’s footsteps: Former Mead standout Baylee Mires thrilled to be coaching at Notre Dame

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 28, 2021

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

Former Mead track coach John Mires left the coaching profession in June after 21 seasons with no expectations of another Mires hopping on the coaching carousel – at least not right away.

But less than four months later, his daughter Baylee Mires accepted an assistant coaching job at Notre Dame.

She will be the assistant women’s distance coach for the track and field and cross country programs for the Irish.

It was an opportunity that arose from a friendship she made with bronze medal winner Molly Seidel while professionally running in Flagstaff, Arizona, for Under Armour.

After talking with former pro runners from Notre Dame as well as coaches in Arizona and, of course, her dad, the opportunity to join the Irish surfaced. She said the opening was spoken into existence.

Seidel put in a good word with her previous coach with the Irish – Matt Spark – and before too long, Mires was introduced as the new assistant coach.

“Baylee will bring a great blend of elite athletic experience and passion for helping young people,” Sparks said in the Fighting Irish news release. “She was raised in a successful coaching family and understands the daily grind required to be a successful coach.”

Mires had already accepted a coaching position before Notre Dame came calling, but when one of the top running programs in the country wants you, the decision eventually becomes an easy call.

“I remember kind of debating on some things, and my dad was like, ‘You would be an idiot not to take that (Notre Dame job),’ ” Baylee said.

John compared his daughter’s running and motivation to that of a surfer who always chased that next big wave. It didn’t matter where the wave was, Baylee would find it.

And she found her big wave in Indiana.

After Baylee’s decision was made to don the navy and gold again – the colors of both Notre Dame and Mead – John can live vicariously through his daughter as she endures and enjoys the grind of being a college coach. He asks her questions every day, growing with Baylee as she navigates the rigors of a top program.

It helps that Baylee has one of the former top high school coaches to lean on.

“She’s such a good buddy of mine,” John said. “We’ve always been in sync. It’s such a blessing and an honor to see her (successes).

“And whether my ‘Been there done that before’ approach or just a little bit of word of encouragement, it’s really just a ground base for both of us.”

As Baylee learns the ropes on the fly, her dad has no doubt in her ability to thrive in a high-end college environment. He said that she has already made a few tweaks and changes that align with her strategies as a runner and as a coach.

“If anybody’s going to hit something out of the park, it’s that little one. She’s always had her hand in the next good thing,” John said. “Right now, she is incredibly happy. Her eyes are wide open.”

Coaching was always meant to be a natural progression for Baylee, considering her family background, but also because of her professional development.

She ran at Mead before her stint at the University of Washington led to the professional circuit, running for five years . As she continued to push herself athletically, the draw of coaching crept into her mind.

“She’s so confident, she has so much going on already. She’s so far ahead of where I ever even came from,” John said. “Just her breadth of knowledge with the high school piece, the collegiate piece and the pro piece, and she just has so much to offer.”

Her hope is to inspire the young runners, just as her coaches at Mead and the Washington did for her.

“I’ve always wanted to coach,” Baylee said. “I know that track and cross country have given me so much over the course of my lifetime that to be able to provide that and give back to the sport that’s given me so much is just the biggest blessing of all time.

“I’m so happy that I get to continue with this sport and that I can be around the greatness of these gals and guys (at Notre Dame).”

The Mireses will be together this week as Baylee’s parents will be in attendance for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. They also will be in attendance for Notre Dame football hosting the University of North Carolina.

While her parents will be making their first trip to Notre Dame to visit Baylee, the Mireses have a fascinating and moving connection from decades ago to the Catholic university that resurfaced after her hiring.

Baylee’s grandpa, John’s dad, was one of the top running back recruits out of California and had a scholarship offer to play for the Irish. He had his suit and gear packed and was about to head to across the country before he was drafted to war, never able to fulfill his dream.

“When I got the news that it was Notre Dame, I called my grandma and she was – I don’t think she’s a super emotional person – but she’s tearing up,” Baylee said. “It is kind of a full-circle thing for the Mires family, which is really amazing.”

Her grandma is 93. John said that she and the rest of the family are thrilled to have an official connection to the Irish after having lost that chance years ago.

“Now it just seems like they are all jumping on that bandwagon and fighting for that Irish,” John said. “There are seven of us. They’re just all ecstatic about that little sliver of something that was lost but yet is found again. My mom just couldn’t be more proud.”

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