Carlyn Baldwin, a 16-year-old student-athlete from Oakton, hopes that she is well on her way to her dream of playing for the United States National Women’s soccer team.
Baldwin’s soccer career began at the age of four-and-a-half when her mom signed her up for a local team. Since then, Baldwin has committed her life to soccer and received a plethora of individual awards and recognitions. At the National Championships in the summer of 2012, she was named to the Best 11 for the u16 (under age sixteen) all-tournament team. She was nominated for and attended multiple United States Soccer Training Centers, which are used for youth national team identification.
Soccer has required Baldwin to travel all along the East Coast and the South. In 2008, she traveled to Maine for Regionals, but couldn’t play due to her broken ankle. Four years later, she got her chance to play at Regionals in Pennsylvania and Nationals in South Carolina. For National League, she went to North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Her Region I League games took place in New York and Delaware.
Baldwin’s favorite soccer player is Xavier Hernandez, also known as Xavi. Like Baldwin, he is a small athlete and a midfielder. She watches his games to learn techniques and considers him one of the best in the world because he contributes to his team defensively and offensively.
Baldwin said, “A college coach told my club coach that I reminded them of Xavi from Spain. Getting that compliment made me feel like I was doing the right things in the midfield.”
Baldwin’s next step to improving her game is to add awareness of when to attack space and players and when to let the flow of the game keep going.
Many people don’t know that Baldwin is quiet on the field, a total contrast to her usual outgoing and bubbly personality. People sometimes believe Carlyn to be cocky, when she is really just a confident player. Many people underestimate Baldwin’s talent due to her small stature, but Baldwin believes that in soccer size is irrelevant as long as the player is strong.
Baldwin describes her family and friends as “very supportive.” Her father never misses a game, her mother is always there for her, and her sister and friends cheer her on.
In the rare circumstance that she is not on the field, Baldwin is at church, training younger kids at her soccer club, or doing schoolwork. Although she would rather spend all her time training, Baldwin still attends high school like any other teen. She said that dealing with her schoolwork is difficult, but it is just part of being a student-athlete.
Baldwin currently plays for the Braddock Road Youth Club (BRYC) team.
“Being part of a team is amazing because you get to share so many incredible experiences with your teammates who are not only my best friends but my family,” she said.
Regarding her future, Baldwin plans to finish playing soccer for BRYC and move on to collegiate soccer at The University of Tennessee. She is working toward joining the under-18 national team and then moving on to play professionally in either Europe or the United States. Her ultimate goal is joining the United States Women’s National Team. Once her career is over, she plans to coach soccer.
Baldwin said, “The most rewarding thing about soccer is that I get to compete for championships on the state, regional, and national levels with amazing teammates and do the thing I love the most.”
Baldwin advises other athletes aspiring to be as successful as she is to work hard and train independently because you have to outwork everyone in order to be the best.