Originally, Davina Baine wasn’t planning on playing soccer when she decided to attend Philadelphia University in the fall. The Indian River High School senior had been attracted to the school’s architecture program.
However, after making her choice for academic reasons, the Indians’ defensive centerpiece got curious about the school’s athletics. That’s when she reached out to see if, while taking the steps to become an architect, she might be able to build on an already storied soccer career.
“I kind of took it into my own hands,” said Baine of deciding to reach out to Rams head coach George Dunbar. “I went for an overnight and tried out for them — it was a good visit. Their play is very similar to ours. They’re very fast, and they’re an offensive team.”
After attending a 6 a.m. practice and two hours of play, Baine eventually got a call from Dunbar, who had some good news.
“He contacted me, and we had a meeting the next day,” she recalled. “He told me I made the team.”
A member of the Indians’ varsity team for the past four years and key contributor to the Indians’ state championship run in 2015, Baine has been an All-Conference selection every year since her freshman campaign. She’s also served as team captain for the past two seasons.
“She’s really the leader of the team. Her direction on the field is so impressive, and all the girls respect her and the attitude that she brings,” said head coach Steve Kilby. “I think it’s natural for her. Her leadership is something that, whether she played soccer or not, she has.”
Kilby went on to say that he expects Baine to eventually lead at the Rams in a similar fashion, as she adjusts to the speed of the game at the next level, while at the same time juggling her academic responsibilities and aspirations.
“She will fit into Philadelphia University’s program pretty well I believe — she’s a force to be reckoned with on the back line,” he said. “I think she’s so well grounded that, collegiately, she’ll earn the respect of her teammates in a hurry.”
Interestingly enough, Baine said that her future team reminds her a lot of her current one.
“The coach reminds me actually a lot of Kilby,” she explained. “He’s one to push you, but he’s not going to overstep his boundaries. It’s really good to have someone that you can go in there and you can still be open with and have a good connection with.
“The team is very welcoming. They’re very close. A lot of the girls room together so they have that connection that we have here. It’s a team that’s very family-oriented, like we are here.”
Originally from Baltimore, Baine didn’t move to the area until eighth grade, when she became a member of Selbyville Middle School’s first-ever undefeated girls’ soccer team. However, she’s been playing soccer since she was 6 and has managed to involve herself in the River Soccer program in any way she can.
The fifth River player this year to announce plans of playing in the NCAA — also including seniors Ian Walls going to Moravian, Aline Check-Guzman to Wesley and Brooke Beam to Richmond, as well as junior Maddie Hogsten’s verbal commitment to Salisbury — it’s that program to which Baine attributes much of her success.
“Even with me coming in late, I still involve myself in River Soccer Club,” she said. “If you need something, someone there is able to help you succeed in whatever way you need to.”
She also said she hopes that younger players will continue the trend and realize that they can accomplish the same.
“My focus definitely has to be more academic, but athletically it still has to be up there like it has been the past four years. It’s going to be a lot harder, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she said. “It’s worth putting your time in and all of your effort, because it pays off in the end. If you want to play, set your mind to it, because it can happen.”