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Resources Jul 31, 2015

U.S. U-20 Carlyn Baldwin lighting up YouTube, Vine as NCAA season arrives

Let’s face it, North American soccer has a short attention span, just like the rest of the United States and Canada. The lavishly-hyped recruits and prospects of yesterday are all too quickly forgotten once they’ve signed on the dotted line, or made their walk to and from the podium on draft or graduation day.

A year or so ago, Oakton, Virginia’s Carlyn Baldwin was heading to the University of Tennessee for her freshman year with high hopes and a growing reputation.

She’d already appeared for the United States in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and her rare blend of skill and vision had drawn the interest of French club Olympique Lyonnais, who tried to interest her in going pro in Europe rather than taking the NCAA route.

+READ: Va. phenom passes on offer from Olympique Lyonnais, will attend U of Tennessee

But a series of injuries plagued her first year in Knoxville, knocking the Braddock Road YC (Virginia) product off the radar of many observers despite her enormous talent and potential.

Now Baldwin is back – and she’s announced it with a series of dazzling freestyle clips on social media.

The playmaking midfielder began working back up to full speed in early summer after undergoing surgery in late spring, putting in countless hours of technical training to rebuild her skills and sharpness.

Armed with little more than her boots, a ball and a GoPro camera (and some help from her U-20 teammate Rose Chandler) she’s documented some of her outstanding ballwork with Vine clips, and she has her own channel on YouTube.

With Tennessee having racked up what TopDrawerSoccer rates the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, including Baldwin’s friend, fellow Virginian and US youth national teamer Katie Cousins, Baldwin will have to play well to earn major minutes this year. But the competition for places could make the Volunteers one of the nation’s top teams.

Baldwin’s intense dedication to technique and skill doesn’t just make for fun video clips — it shows off in her play on the field, where she’s been compared to Spanish legend Xavi. She arrived on campus ahead of schedule to intensify her regimen, and looks likely to hit the ground running as head coach Brian Pensky gets the Vols’ season underway against Clemson on Aug. 10.

If you or a young soccer player in your life were wondering what it takes to climb to the top of the pyramid, Baldwin’s passion and commitment should be a useful measuring stick.

Are you putting in the work like Carlyn is?

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