The Baldwin Eagle Is Ready to Soar: Q&A With High Jump High Roller Henry Baldwin

Henry Baldwin is a two-time Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference champion in the high jump, and will be defending his title and helping lead the men’s track and field team to a podium finish at this weekend’s SCAC championships in Seguin, Texas. The men and women’s track teams will be competing on April 27 and 28, both defending third-place finishes at last year’s championship meet.

Ben Hall: Henry, you’ve been called the Conor McGregor of the SCAC, in that you are truly the double champ. Freshman year you  took home gold, then repeated your sophomore year. Are you feeling the pressure right now?

Henry Baldwin: Well Ben, my mindset has to be that I win again. I’m seeded No. 1, but the competition this year is better than ever. We’re gonna see a lot of guys hit personal bests, and I can’t let them beat me. We’re gonna put on a show.

BH: Henry, tell me about your greatest failure.

HB: My greatest failure was when I was working as an intern at an advertising office in Chicago, I wrote a commercial for a women’s incontinence brand called Poise. It was about a female marathon runner, and the commercial made it to the creative director of the London office before getting shot down. So that’s my greatest failure.

BH: Can you give us a rundown of what happened in the commercial?

HB: Alright, so look: One in three women over the age of 30 have light bladder leakage. But that’s okay! Let me tell you why. My commercial would star Paula Radcliffe. She got pregnant, had a baby, and months later she won the London Marathon. Do you think she gives a f*** about light bladder leakage? The context there, by the way, is that a lot of people get that after they have a baby. I couldn’t help but be surprised that they put a 20 year-old frat boy on this assignment, but they had faith in me.

BH: Tell me about Cody Hall.

HB: He’s the guy seeded No. 2 behind me in the high jump. Given how well he does in a lot of events, I have to beat him in the HJ—I can’t give him the satisfaction of winning that, too. He’s a hell of a competitor, though.

BH: We have one of the most perfect couple names in all of sports: Benry Haldwin. What do you think that says about us and the chemistry of this J-squad [jumps and javelin crew]?

HB: J-Squad runs deep. Ben, I consider you my teammate—

BH: I would certainly hope so…

HB: —and a friend, and a coach. Coach Ron has to run around to a lot of events, and ultimately it’s the people in the J-Squad, you and Camille and Peter, who are looking after each other and making sure we’re doing everything right.

BH: Can you give me an origin story behind the name of your band, Loafie Breadpath and the Yeasty Boys?

HB: Well, the band started without a name when, at conference my freshman year, I was playing the harmonica and teammate Ethan Holland heard me and said, “Hey, I play guitar, we should jam sometime.” Loafy Breadpath is a pun on Sophie Redpath, our singer. Sophie actually came to our band later than the rest of us—we had a different singer who left us a week before our first-ever performance. We were planning on blowing up the Sigma Chi house, but all of the sudden we had no singer. Sophie’s always been one of my best friends at school, and I knew she sang a little bit, and we have similar taste in music. So the band plays bangers only, and I knew she’d want to sing them. And so she joined on, we rocked the house, the band was formed. The name comes from us having tried forever to come up with a “real” name, so we made bread puns on all our names and Sophie’s worked the best, so we went with that and added on the Yeasty Boys.

BH: You have a bit of an eclectic pre-competition playlist. Tell me about that.

HB: I listen to exclusively Daft Punk.

BH: What about “Get Lucky” and “Around the World” gets you fired up and in the right headspace to compete?

HB: Well, it’s really just trial and error. I tried very angry music because that’s what I listened to before basketball games, but I found it made me jittery. And as you know, you have to be level-headed coming in, so I can’t listen to anything too angry. So that rules out a lot of rap, and stuff that makes me wanna dance just gets me in the right zone to jump over things.

BH: Who are role models of yours in and out of the sport of high jump?

HB: Well, obviously the great [Qatari high jumper] Mutaz Essa Barshim. He does everything perfectly, and I wish him the best to break the world record soon, which has stood for 25 years. Outside the sport, as a Chicagoan I love Derrick Rose to a fault. He was incredible, put the team on his back, played for his city. He’s suffered so many injuries, but he keeps going out there and plays his heart out, in spite of the critics. And one more, I look up to Katie Sanford, who was an absolute boss for our school in the long-distance events; went to nationals, hit the podium, one day I want to do the same thing.

Defend that title and jump high this weekend, Baldwin!

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