Most people are probably familiar with Lauren Baldwin the hockey player, a dominating goalie willing to sprawl, flop and kick her way to success.
But how about Lauren Baldwin the soccer player?
Stepping on the pitch for the first time in her life this past fall, she succeeded in that, too, even scoring the winning goal against a Division I school.
And coming soon to a field near you, Lauren Baldwin the lacrosse player.
"It's something I've watched and always wished I could have done," she said. "When I watch it, it looks like so much fun, and I'm like 'I wish that were here in Alaska.' That would have been fun."
Well, now is her opportunity.
Required to play three sports at Kents Hill School in Maine, a prep school where she is honing her goal-tending skills in hopes of making the leap to a Division I college hockey program next fall, Baldwin has triumphed in avenues she had never before taken.
Like soccer, where she earned the team's Most Improved Player award.
"You've got to start from somewhere," she said via cell phone. "You can't go down when your first starting. You've got to go up."
Baldwin believes she actually benefited from being a newcomer among a pool of skilled competitors, something she's not accustomed to.
"It was different, but it was also helpful," she said. "I always thinks it's good to start something new and learn about it."
Hockey, of course, was nothing new.
Playing in six out of nine games this season, Baldwin has logged 255 minutes of ice time, allowing just 11 goals while compiling a 4-2 record and a 92.5 save percentage, good enough for sixth out of at least 16 goalies, even though there are roughly 40 teams in the Division-II New England Prep School Athletic Conference.
Nervous in her Kents Hill debut, Baldwin still posted a shutout in leading her team to a 1-0 victory.
"Normally when I'm nervous I end up playing better. I ended up having a pretty decent first game," she said with a laugh. "You always need to get the first game under your belt. It's almost like a sign of how the season's going to go hopefully that the season's going to go good and that I can play with the girls and hopefully get more shutouts."
Kents Hill women's hockey coach Kim Nanof, a former D-I goalie and coach at Northeastern University in Boston, said Baldwin has filled a major hole on the team.
"We have another goalie who's a sophomore. We're working out some things with her. She's not as big and not as aggressive (as Baldwin)," Nanof said. "Our defensive unit is struggling a little bit this year. Lauren's certainly filled that void because she's running the zone. She's really done a great job of that for us."
That's not much of a surprise. At least, it shouldn't be.
As a senior at Kenai Central last season, Baldwin started 24 of 25 games in net for the Kardinals, leading her squad to a 19-5-1 overall mark not to mention a perfect 15-0 North Star Conference record the school's third conference championship and a best-ever fourth-place finish at the state championships.
Posting a 2.56 goals against average and a 90.2 save percentage, Baldwin became the first girl to be named to the Alaska State 4A All-Tournament team while also being selected as the team's Most Valuable Player, which, as Kenai coach Nate Kiel described it, was "Quite an honor, considering the caliber of talent we graduated to the junior ranks."
But the most challenging, and even more obvious, transition for Baldwin has been getting acquainted to playing with girls, something she hasn't done much of in her life.
"It was more difficult than I expected," she said. "Obviously the speed's different ... it's a challenge, but I'm managing. Every day I get better at facing the girls."
Playing with boys practically her entire life has only helped her.
Nanof can attest to that, too, having played with guys until the age of 14.
"It didn't take her very long," Nanof said of adjusting to a slower pace. "It's just a different game. It's hard and she was really nervous with it ... . It's like night and day. ...
"She's got skill. You just have to learn to pace yourself differently," she added. "With guys it's all reaction ... if you're in the right spot, if the angles are right and you're quick, you can be a good goalie. With girls, you kind of have to think a little bit more. I actually think it's harder to play girls hockey for me than it was to ever play boys hockey. The goal-tending position is probably the only position I would say that for."
Baldwin prefers playing with the guys.
"Just because guys are a lot more intense ... the game's faster, it's stronger," she said. "And when you're a girl playing on a guy's team, it's just a chance to say that girls are just as good boys."
No matter how much adjusting it takes, Baldwin is prepared to hopefully make the jump to a D-I program, most likely on the East coast.
"After so many years of playing hockey, I feel like it would go to waste if I didn't go play college hockey somewhere."
As for stepping between the pipes on the lacrosse field this spring, she figures she'll let somebody else put their body on the line this time.
"I kind of want to do something else other than goalie," Baldwin said. "I enjoy that in hockey, but I don't think I should keep on playing the same position.
"They have a goalie. I'll let her have her time in net."
Matthew Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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