Shoring up the roster before the 2020 fall series, the North Carolina Courage signed multiple new players to the roster, including forward Rylee Baisden. For the NWSL fall series, Baisden signed a short-term contract with the club but already had some advocates already in the team with two former Pepperdine teammates in Lynn Williams and Hailey Harbison. Courage Country sat down virtually with Baisden to answer our 2020 Starting XI Questions.
2020 Starting XI Questions: Rylee Baisden
If you weren’t playing in the NWSL, where would you be and what would you be doing?
Not soccer-related? It could be anything? Honestly, I think I would be a traveling photographer. That’s definitely one of my passions outside of soccer and I enjoy photographing sports, but I also love traveling so I think traveling and going to really unique places and being able to see the world. I’m definitely craving a little bit of that, being landlocked here and you know just not being able to travel as freely as we used to. I just think that would be so cool, just being able to capture and see the world.
Your Wikipedia page set and mentioned that you have some interest in have done some photography with drones as well. Talk about that.
Yeah, so I actually have my drone license. I was super into it in college. Media production is my minor and my mom’s a photographer. I’ve kind of always been alongside her and been her assistant growing up. So I feel like I’ve always been around the camera and then I really got into the videography side in college.
It’s just such a cool perspective when you’re flying the drone and you see the bird’s eye view of everything. That is rarely captured and I think it’s just so incredible to see. It’s just that perspective alone is just so different than face to face, or just a normal videographer. So I think the drone brings in this cool kind of like otherworldly feel to it and it’s always cinematic. I mean, you could just be flying straight up, and then the movement is happening below. Or you could have both where it’s super dynamic and you’re moving and the movements happening in the video. I don’t know. I just fell in love with that.
I actually started my own photography drone business when I was in offseason a few seasons ago and did some weddings, which is not my cup of tea at all. It’s too stressful and I had to fly the drone. It was too intense for me. So I think I’m more of the creative. I want to make my own story type of deal because that was too stressful. I won’t be doing weddings again. I did it for a friend. They had like a videographer fall through, and I just happened to be in town. It worked out well — I mean she loved the video, but I was like still so stressed about it, thinking about it. There’s something about being behind the lens that is very freeing.
If you didn’t need to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Oh, good question. I would go on a road trip, I think. Again, back to seeing different parts of the world, I feel like I haven’t even really seen all of the US, and what better way to do that then getting in the car and being able to see and drive. I know there are some boring states you have to drive through, but I think most mostly if you go along the coast, I would love to go. I have never done the Pacific Northwest. I’ve heard that that route is incredible and even through Yellowstone. I think national parks would be something I would hit up on that road trip. So that would be it — maybe a cross country road trip with no sleep, lots of coffee.
If a fan recognizes you away from the field (in non-COVID times), what should they do?
I mean, come say hi. I feel like I’m pretty friendly. I’ll have a chat with you. I’m not above anybody else. It’s nice to meet new people who, you know, share the same interest as I do.
What’s the skill you want to improve the most this season?
I think knowing where I want to play before I even get the ball or knowing what I’m going to do, instead of it being an afterthought. Thinking two or three plays ahead is something that you can’t defend very well, and there’s a lot of girls on the team that can do that. That’s what makes the Courage so dynamic and fast is that you know, they hit the other team when they’re not really ready for it, and then they’re on the back end of it. So I think just speed of play and more of the speed of my mind because I feel like the speed of play maybe is an afterthought. I think once your brain and your feet connect, it’s maybe just thinking a couple of steps ahead.
What do players talk about in the tunnel before matches?
Honestly, it’s a not very long tunnel. Everyone goes out once we chat in the locker room and then go out. It’s a pretty quick jogging out, but a lot of people love getting their, their tunnel photo. I mean that’s the thing which I didn’t know was such a big deal. So I think just getting around and getting out there.
I don’t know. I don’t really know if anything’s really talked about. That’s not a good answer. I don’t know. I mean, it was pretty quiet when I jogged out this last time. I jogged out with Hailey Harbison this last time. We went to college together.
Which player are you most glad is a teammate instead of an opponent?
Debinha for sure. She’s so crafty. I mean, even just at training, it’s just second nature for her to be just so clever and I mean just honestly, a magician on the ball. There are some plays, I don’t even know how she comes out of it or beats a defender because her feet move that fast, and she’s just so slick. She’s also just such a hard worker. I think that’s something that is contagious in the best way. I’m really glad I don’t have to defend her and she’s not on the other team. I only have to defend her in practice. So it’s good. Not one person in the league wants to defend her.
What is the best part about competing?
When I came in, it was such an intense environment, and being in a competitive environment when everyone is wanting to win, it just creates such a good culture. Coming in right off the bat, and at that already being facilitated when you come into the league, that’s huge because maybe not everybody is taking these fall series games seriously as far as getting better and growing. They’re just trying to get through it, but I think the one thing on this team is that we’re always talking about growth and progress.
It’s not always about winning, but it is about competing and I love that. I’m super competitive and I think everybody shows up to training and in games competing with that fire in their belly. So just to be a part of that, that again is so contagious and that’s what makes the Courage, the Courage.
People were like, “you’re going to the best club in the whole nation.”
I’m like, “I’m aware. I’m aware.”
Who do you wish was watching you at every game you play?
Probably my dad. Ever since college — post-college he hasn’t seen me play a lot other than staying up late for streams from all over the world. He just gets a lot of enjoyment in watching me play. I like him being there because, he’s the one who taught me to be competitive, to work hard, and to show up with a good attitude. Being able to show him what he has taught me over the years still stands and it’s just nice being in person instead of it being through a screen.
What do you do to calm your nerves leading up to, during, and after a match?
I think just getting on the ball. Definitely this last weekend, I think the first thing I was like, “Just get on the ball. Get your first touch. Complete your first pass. If you mess up, don’t go internal. It’s just a game. Have fun, and hard work is going to help — and so I think just working hard and if it’s not coming off, just keep trying it, keep trying it.
It was good because the teammates that are out there, they’re calm. So not everybody’s in such a fuss about, “Oh my gosh, you got to get the ball.” Being surrounded by other people that are also very collected on the ball and just directing you where to go, there’s a lot of good communication within the squad so just using my voice. I know I’m in the game when I’m using my voice. If I’m not using my voice and I’m going quiet, I always told myself, “Get back in. Direct something or you even talk to myself.
Then after the match, how do you come down with all that adrenaline pumping?
I think just soaking in the moment, because, especially when you when you have a good game. It’s nice to be present and be in that moment, but then also coming back down to reality and being like, “Okay the job is done. Now we’re on to the next thing,” because you can’t stay on those highs forever. You know you got to come back down and keep working hard.
Where do you see the sport in 10-15 years?
Hopefully filling out stadiums and bringing a lot of people to the matches. Just seeing how many viewers are watching online right now is super positive. I think just grasping onto the people that actually believe in the sport and believe in the women’s side and all athletes are what we need to hold on to.
Then we just keep pushing forward and creating that pathway for the young girls that are not even in college yet to dream big and say, “I can play at the professional level.” Really I think us creating this path and fighting for everything now isn’t always just for us. I think it’s also for the younger generation. I love instilling in younger girls, especially that you can play at the next level, and it’s not just college and then you’re done. I mean I’m huge about you believe it. You work hard. Do it. For myself, I wasn’t drafted out of college and I went overseas. I think a lot of girls would normally hang them up and be like,
“Well, I didn’t get drafted into the NWSL,” but there are still pro leagues overseas. It has been the best thing for me and has grown me as a person, not only as a player. So just really believing in people — women especially and young girls because they’re the future and it all starts with us.
Question from Cari Rocarro: What is your go to five course meal you would cook if you were having a dinner party?
Oh, great question. Cari, and I have to cook it. Honestly I have to throw this out there, then she’s gonna want me to cook her this dinner party so like I should be careful with what I answer. That’s totally her angle. She just wants me to cook for her.
Okay, let’s see. For starters, I feel like a charcuterie board is just a crowd favorite, you know, maybe like three different cheeses, some crackers, some nuts, some salami, maybe throwing some dark chocolate on there. So start with that and then I think the best thing I can cook is Mexican food. I love tacos — any type of tacos. So I think the next thing would be homemade salsa and guacamole. Then we would have some ground beef with some sauteed veggies and maybe some rice and beans. I feel like that would be it. Then for dessert, we would have a chocolate cake. Is that five? I don’t know if that’s five but that’s enough. I’m not going to list anything else because she’s going to rope me into having to cook her this meal.
2020 Starting XI Questions
Check out our first eight 2020 Starting XI Questions:
All of our Starting XI Questions can be read here.
Look for more articles on Rylee Baisden and the entire North Carolina Courage squad throughout the 2020 season here on Courage Country.