When her collegiate career ended a few years ago, Audrey Baldwin wanted to continue playing soccer. That's why she has become a bit of a world traveler.
Baldwin, a goalie at Fallston High School and Harford Community College before moving on to two other schools, has already played in Portugal, Iceland (twice) and Denmark before recently signing with Juvisy, a French team whose season runs through June.
The 25-year-old started for two years at HCC -- after helping Fallston to a Class 2A state title in 2009. As a freshman at HCC, she earned All-Conference and All-Region honors, and as a sophomore, she was All-American. The next stop was Arkansas State, but Baldwin left there after one year and moved to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she started and played in every game during her lone season there.
Baldwin's personal coach is Jason Muffoletto, who runs the men's and women's soccer teams at HCC, and he advised the goalie it might be best to think about hitting the road to further her career.
"She wanted to play professionally, and I suggested that she go overseas and get [herself] established to get some notice, so when it's time to come back, she'd have some high-level experience behind her," said Muffoletto, who has worked with Baldwin since her Fallston days. "The way she's improved is almost unbelievable. She lives, eats and breathes her job, and her passion for soccer is amazing."
Baldwin officially signed with Juvisy in late February. She played her first game for Juvisy's second team in March, and her side beat the division's first team, 2-1.
Baldwin enjoyed finally getting in a game after she dislocated a finger on her left hand in training. She also hurt the finger next to that one and missed a few weeks.
"It was actually relaxing," Baldwin said from France. "It felt good to be back, and I thrive off of the pressure. To be competitive and to have the pressure on me again felt really good."
Baldwin lives in a team-arranged house about half-hour from Paris with a teammate, and her weeks are filled with four to five days at practice and several days in the gym.
She has traveled to Paris several times and has visited what she calls "touristy" places. Baldwin loves the fast-paced nature of Paris, saying there's something to do on every corner.
The Juvisy season runs until May and resumes in September. The French team will let her know around season's end if they will re-sign her. Baldwin might return to Harford County during the break and train with Muffoletto before deciding on what comes next, especially if the French team does not bring her back.
If Baldwin does need to move to another team or even to another country, well, she's been through that before.
She began her overseas career during fall/winter 2014 with a team in Portugal. Baldwin paid her own way, "starting with one team and then trying out for the top team and playing with them." Her first signing came in Iceland during spring 2015, before she moved on to Denmark that fall.
Baldwin returned to Iceland last spring and came to France for the current spring season. She says she enjoys being able to see different parts of the world while keeping her soccer dreams alive but admits it's tough at times.
"Playing overseas really is an amazing opportunity," Baldwin said. "It has made me grow so much as a person, but it also has made me truly value what I have at home. I love coming home to my family and familiarity after seven-to-eight months of moving around during the year."
Baldwin said she never really thought about doing something like this until her senior year of college, and wondered if she had the proper level of ability. However, Muffoletto, plus her coach in Texas and a friend, convinced Baldwin going overseas could be worth a shot.
For now, Baldwin is simply playing soccer and checking out the sights in France. She'll be ready for whatever happens at season's end.
Baldwin simply wants to keep playing the game she loves. She's been getting to do just that and seeing the world at the same time -- not a bad combination.
"I love the routine at home of the gym and the training," Baldwin said. "But it is fulfilling to go to a new place and be able to represent home and compete with people from all over the world."
Issue 232: April 2017