Dressed in a yellow rain jacket, Billabong toque, and chinos, Michael Baart could easily be mistaken for the frontman of an up-and-coming indie band. In his Vikes jersey, Baart is a top performer, scoring four goals in his first six games, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him slowing down.
Baart graduated from St. Michael’s University School in Victoria in 2014. Despite what he describes as an “uneventful” senior soccer career, Baart capped off his time at St. Michaels with a win in the Colonist Cup final—the tournament involving all high schools in Victoria—and spearheaded a three-goal comeback with two goals of his own, including the match winner.
“It was nice to be able to end with a win and some silverware,” said Baart. “That game also got me recognized by Bruce [Wilson, head coach of the men’s soccer team], so it was very helpful when it came to coming to UVic.”
It was a good decision on Wilson’s part, as Baart has fit right in with the Vikes. A self-described target-man, he plays as a traditional number 9 on the pitch, holding up the play and bringing other players into the game. Other Vikes players such as Cam Hundal and Craig Gorman have benefitted from his style of play in the attacking third, and Baart is also happy to be playing alongside players of their calibre.
“I’ve wanted to play with [Hundal and Gorman] ever since I knew I wanted to come to UVic for soccer. They run at defenders with pace and they’re the kinds of players who will use you, and whom you can use to make plays. You can always expect good things from them,” said Baart.
Since Baart has joined Hundal and Gorman, good things have certainly happened; the three of them alone have contributed eight goals in six games for the Vikes. Baart seems comfortable leading the line for the Vikes, and has done well to find his footing after such a short amount of time.
“I’ve played with a couple of the guys on the team in the past,” said Baart. “I knew most of them before coming here. The team is full of really good players and really good guys, so they’ve all made it really easy to fit in.”
His performance for the Vikes has not gone unnoticed. Baart was named Canada West Second Star of the Week earlier this season after two goals in two games against UBC Okanagan and Thompson Rivers. It’s an accomplishment Baart described as “astounding,” but there’s surely more down the road if he continues to play as well as he has been.
However, like a good leader or a good front man for that matter, Baart remains modest.
“One of my main goals was to get myself on the roster, and that’s happened and will hopefully continue to happen,” said Baart. “I’m just hoping to keep playing, keep scoring goals, and keep helping the team.”
Mature for his age, his casual appearance belies the fact he is a deadly finisher and a natural competitor. Only in his first year, the Vikes can expect good things for many years to come.