Transition is nothing new for University of Minnesota defenseman Sydney Baldwin.
The Minnetonka, Minn., native, continues to accumulate experience within the U.S. women’s program for Team USA, which ultimately has helped her adjust and evolve while playing her first two years at Minnesota.
“I think with any team, there’s always a sense that you have to transition and adjust and be adaptable to how that team works and the difference where you used to play and where you play now,” Baldwin said.
“It’s similar to Team USA and [Minnesota] because it always takes time to adjust and become more comfortable with the team dynamic, the system and how they play. That comes with a little more confidence on the ice, which is always great.”
As a freshman at Minnesota last year, Baldwin was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and appeared in all 41 games, recording 11 points. She ranked third on the team with 52 blocked shots and ended the season at plus-32.
Now 10 games into her sophomore year, Baldwin has already recorded four assists while setting a program single-game record with a plus-eight rating.
“Coming in and being a freshman, there’s always a big adjustment period and a learning curve to all the new systems,” she said. “Coming back every year, you feel a little more comfortable, and I think that’s where I’m at this year.
“I think it has showed on the ice, and it has a lot to do with the adjustment, learning and being in my second year.”
The adjustment also took place off he ice, where Baldwin is carrying a double major of human resources and business management and has a grade-point average above 3.0.
“Minnesota is the perfect fit for me from an academic and athletic standpoint,” she said. “I absolutely love the team atmosphere. We truly have a special culture on our team. It’s a sense of family and I’ve had an awesome time here.”
She had a similar experience as part of the USA Hockey program.
Baldwin participated in USA Hockey national camps starting when she was 14 and began playing for the national U18 team.
She most recently played for the U.S. Under-22 Select Team that won the 2015 Under-22 Series vs. Canada this past August.
“Every time I get the opportunity to play for Team USA it’s always such an incredible honor,” Baldwin said.
She explained that playing with the best players in her age group can be intimidating at first, but USA Hockey helps those players reach their potential while fostering a team atmosphere.
“The first year I kind of experienced that a bit, but the next year I had more confidence and knew what to expect,” Baldwin said. “It’s always an amazing experience to travel and develop the sense of team with girls from around the country coming together for one common good, and that’s to try and win a gold medal.
“I always look forward to getting on the ice, and I’m always grateful for the opportunity to play with the jersey on.”
Baldwin didn’t produce a point in five games during her initial stint with the U.S. U18 team. But later that year she served as an alternate captain in a U18 series and was named alternate captain again the following season as a member of the U18 team.
“It’s just such an honor to even be on the team, but to wear the letter … it’s almost hard to describe how it feels to be able to represent the team,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin was a leader and a key player for her high school team as she led Minnetonka to an unprecedented three consecutive Minnesota Class AA state championships. She was named to the Class AA all-tournament team and finished her varsity career with 39 goals and 112 points.
Baldwin, the career leading scorer among defenseman at her school, was also the winner of the annual Ms. Hockey Award as a senior, presented to the top girls’ hockey player in Minnesota based on not just on-ice performance but also academics, extracurricular activities, citizenship and coachability.
“There was incredible leadership all three of those years and multiple people that went on to play very high level Division 1 hockey,” said Baldwin, who won a state championship with her older sister Paige. “We all kind of came together, bought into the team system and came together for a common goal. The feeling was incredible.”
It has all played a part to her development at Minnesota and continued ascension throughout not just the program, but also within the ranks of USA Hockey.
“I definitely think there’s an adjustment period with whatever team you’re playing with,” Baldwin said. “It will always take a little bit of time to be comfortable in your place and understand the system and how your team works.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.