by Jeannie Huey, sports information student assistant
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga.— Georgia College freshman Sol Baldassini, accounting major and Georgia College soccer player, received an invitation to try out for the Argentinian women's national team in November 2013. If receiving an invite was not already impressive enough, she made her family and team proud when she earned the honor of wearing an Argentinian jersey. "You don't see this happen at the Division II level," said Hope Clark, Bobcat head soccer coach. "We are all so proud of her."
For Baldassini soccer is in her blood. Not only because it is a prominent part of her Argentinian heritage, but also her grandfather played professionally and her younger sister also made the national team. "There is no greater goal that an athlete can achieve than to play on a national team," said Baldassini. "I feel honored and blessed."
In Argentina, there is not a professional women's team—this opens the door for passionate players like Baldassini to compete. While the Argentinian team trained for World Cup qualifying matches, all the players performed at a high level. The Argentinian team's goal of of playing in the World Cup this summer in Canada would fall short. "But, that does not change the amazing experience I had with the national team, and I left feeling proud of what we were able to accomplish, with no regrets, and knowing that GC was being represented as well," said Baldassini. The team ended up ranking third in its group and sixth in the qualifiers overall.
Baldassini's family moved from Argentina to the U.S. in search of a better and more secure life for Baldassini and her younger sister. "In 2001, when Argentina kept getting more dangerous, crime rate going up, and the economy was on a downward spiral, my parents made the tough choice of leaving behind family, friends, and a life in Argentina hoping to find a better one here in the States," said Baldassini.
In addition to the Bobcat soccer program, Baldassini chose to enroll at Georgia College because of the strong sense of family and community she felt while visiting the school for the first time, "A big part of the reason why I chose to attend Georgia College is the soccer program," she said. "Overall though, when I came on my Junior Day visit the weekend of Homecoming, I just saw how much life this campus had. Everyone was really friendly, welcoming, reminded me of the atmosphere and vibe of the high school I was at. Georgia College left a big impression on me and I just knew after my visit I could not let the opportunity of coming here slip away."
Although her roots are in Argentina, Baldassini's family extends far beyond geographical or cultural boundaries. One month prior to her seventh birthday, Baldassini arrived in the U.S.—she has strong emotional connections in both countries. Baldassini considers her Bobcat teammates as part of her family as well as her Argentinian relatives. On and off the field, "we preach family," said Clark.
"We are all extremely close—we have family dinners every week and spend a lot of time together," said Baldassini. When the Bobcats heard the news that she made the Argentinian team, they celebrated her success. "We are all so proud of her, said Clark. " We missed her big time while she was gone."
Although she has achieved at a level few soccer players ever do, Baldassini remains humble. "I am just one player," said Baldassini. "It's always because of the team—they [Bobcats] are so happy for me and proud because one of us made it."
After graduation, Baldassini plans to use her accounting degree and finance minor as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She aspires to conduct internal auditing for a major corporation. True to her athletic nature, she hopes to work for a sports company. "The dream job would be to work for any major sports company like Fox Sports, Nike or ESPN," said Baldassini.
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 11 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at @GCBobcats on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit GCBobcats.PhotoReflect.com to purchase photo prints from home athletic contests.