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After beating COVID-19, Wyandanch high basketball coach comes home

Community members celebrated the return of Sharon Baker, of Wyandanch on Saturday, after she was released from the hospital after recovering from COVID-19. Credit: James Carbone

A Wyandanch Memorial High School basketball coach is back home, nearly two months after testing positive for COVID-19 and needing a ventilator to breathe.

Sharon Baker, 53, who coaches the boys junior varsity team, was met by family and friends Saturday morning when she arrived at her Wyandanch home after being released from St. Charles Rehabilitation in Port Jefferson. 

Wearing a mask and holding flowers, Baker told the crowd of more than 50 that she had looked forward to coming home.

“Since March 18,” Baker said of the day she went to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip after developing symptoms of COVID-19. “I felt your prayers. That’s what got me here. God and your prayers.”

Baker’s mother, Shirley, 74, said after her daughter initially went to the hospital, she was transferred to the intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator. 

During her daughter's time at the hospital, Shirley Baker said, not being able to speak with the youngest of her three children was “nerve wracking.”     

“I was able to video time with her once she came out of ICU,” Baker said, adding that when they finally spoke, her daughter didn’t recall anything.

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Paul Sibblies, the principal at Wyandanch Memorial High School, said he got updates from Sharon Baker’s mother about the coach's condition. Like Baker, Sibblies said, he tested positive for COVID-19.

“While I was down," he said, "I was praying for her too."

After Baker was able to breathe without a ventilator, her mother said, she was transferred Monday to St. Charles Rehabilitation.

“But she did so well after the first few days,” Shirley Baker said of her daughter's physical therapy. “She was admitted on a Monday, started her therapy on Tuesday and here she’s home the following Saturday.”

A 1984 graduate of Wyandanch Memorial High School, Sharon Baker has coached the JV boys basketball team for more than a decade. Sibblies said Baker is a pillar of the community. 

“She has a deep love for the children of Wyandanch,” Sibblies said. “She really has a passion and drive for basketball. We do what we can to support her.”

Shirley Baker said that with the exception of feeling a bit weak, her daughter's health is improving and she will celebrate her 54th birthday Thursday.

As for a return to the sidelines to coach, Shirley Baker said she expects her daughter will make that happen.

“During this time, school is out during the time she’s rehabbing,” Shirley Baker said of her daughter. “She’s a person who does not give up.”

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