Fort Bend County teen begins Olympic dreams with Russia
By Karen Daniels
At 16, Alyson Baldwin has taken her first step toward Olympic gold as a future goalie in women’s hockey. And though the fact that she has been selected by Russia may be bittersweet for America, Alyson was adopted from Russia when she was six months-old. She has an older brother, Sean and a younger brother, Trey, and they too are adopted from Russia and have dual citizenships.
Dedicated Dad, Mike Baldwin, explained that when the children were young, he “tried various activities trying to find the sport that best suited” his kids. For Alyson, around the age of eight she wanted to learn to ice-skate so that she could play hockey. She picked it up quickly. During these early years Alyson played on co-ed teams and according to Dad, “Boys wouldn’t pass to her, so one day she asked to borrow the goalie’s uniform.” Alyson discovered a natural talent for the position, guaranteeing that the pucks would be passed to her.
As Alyson’s skill level grew, around the age of 12, Mike found an all-girls league in Dallas. For the next 3 ½ years he drove his daughter every other weekend to practice and participate in the games. Soon, they were traveling by plane on weekends to the northeast, playing in tournaments. At one of these tournaments, Alyson was spotted and recruited by the Ontario Hockey Academy; a college preparatory for exceptional players. Alison left her home in Long Meadow Farms for Canada.
Mike said that the tipping point in Alyson’s hockey future occurred two summers ago at hockey camp in Russia where she was the only American and the only female. It was a chance for Alyson to learn her heritage and to train with “one the greatest goaltenders in the history of the sport,” Vladislaz Tretiak. Did you know that Vladislaz Tretiak was the Russian goalie in the 1980 Winter Olympics “Miracle on Ice” that was pulled from the game in the second quarter? As you know, America went on to win the gold, and some speculate it was due to Tretiak’s removal. And it was precisely because of this encounter with Tretiak that Alyson was recommended to tryout for the Russian women’s team. According to Dad, Alyson just wanted to play, and would have been equally proud to play for America. “Whoever wants me first, get’s me,” Alyson said. Russia was the first to ask, and if everything goes as planned, Alyson Baldwin will be playing goalie on the women’s Russian hockey team in South Korea, 2018.
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