PAST: Kitsilano Blue Demons
PRESENT: Carnarvon Park
FUTURE: Oregon State Beavers
Kathryn Baker does one thing better than anyone else in the province, and her competitors fear her because of it. Her instinct is deadly, but shes no sharp-shooting striker.
Baker, 17, a centre back and the last line of defence on a soccer pitch, aggressively disarms attackers. Girls get crushed, said Dave Sabourin, the senior girls soccer coach at Kitsilano secondary. Shes so tough and tackles so hard, shes a killer. Girls dont actually like playing against her.
She definitely commits and uses her strength and size within match play, said Whitecaps FC womens coach Jesse Symons, who recruited Baker to the girls elite program in 2011.
A low-risk, blue-collar defender who stays home and makes smart decisions, Baker does whatever it takes to stop goals, said Symons.
Always a vocal player, Baker used that voice effectively when she had to became a leader on the field. At the U15 tryouts for Team B.C., the coaches told her to drop from centre midfield to the back line. She overcame the anxiety of being the lieteral last line of defence.
Now its my favourite position. Im not a flashy person. I like getting the job done, she said. You get to jump over strikers. Strikers think theyre cocky with their flashy, mercury cleats. I got my black, plain boots that I buy in bulk for 30 bucks each and Im going to shut you down.
A ferocious tackle isnt all there is to Baker. At Kitsilano, she stepped up to coach the Grade 8 girls team, and 30 bantam players tried out for 20 spots on her roster. Theyre enamoured with her, said Sabourin.
Look for Baker on a day off and youll find the friendly, well-rounded athlete at Carnarvon Park on the same gravel pitch where shes kicked around a soccer ball for half her life.
As I got older we started to notice that I couldnt juggle and I couldnt kick with my left foot so I would start coming here every night to kick up against the wall, she said. Its surprising how many friends you make when youre out here on a regular basis.
Baker, who picked up cricket this spring after devotedly watching on television with her step-dad, will play soccer for the Oregon Beavers in the NCAA Div. I under head coach Linus Rhode, a fellow British Columbian. He said her defensive abilities are tremendous and described her as a fierce competitor.
Symons agreed. Baker, he said, takes everything to heart.
© Copyright 2013