“Just because I couldn’t play, I didn’t want to be there any less for my team,” she says.
The Falcons went on to win the league title that day, besting archrival Arcadia, 4-2, in an inspired performance spurred on by the doubt that they had any chance against the Apaches with the losses of Baldridge and fellow senior captain Brittany Berger. Thereafter, Berger returned, but Baldridge was confined to the sidelines, able to do little more than watch as her team played on. Crescenta Valley marched on to the quarterfinals, its lengthiest run since 2002 and Baldridge was there for it all — every practice and every game.
In his return to Crescenta Valley, Coach Reggie Rivas coached Baldridge for just one season, but it was more than enough time for her to leave a lasting impression — whether it was anchoring a stingy backline, converting a clutch goal or leading her team while limping on the sideline.
“She’s one of the most committed kids I’ve ever coached,” Rivas says. “She loves the team, she loves being a part of the team and she loved playing for her high school.
“She was a true leader. She acted like a captain all the way through.”
Alas, Baldridge’s season might have ended with an injury, but in the 22 games prior, nothing held her back.
For 22 games, she put on display the talent that had earned her a scholarship and All-American recognition. Defensively, she was calm and cool under pressure and as skilled as anyone around. Offensively, she was clutch, showcasing an overall game that made her dangerous anywhere on the field.
It is for the brilliance on both sides of the ball that she displayed for 22 games and the way in which she led her team for 26 games that made Tori Baldridge a unanimous choice as the 2009 All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year, as voted by the sports editor and writers of the Crescenta Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.