Former PCHS star living out pro dream
May 27, 2011
The fates must hold Reid Baker in high regard.
The former Park City High School star soccer player was home in Park City after completing his degree at Cal-State Fullerton University, where he was a starter, and he was just looking to play some soccer late one Wednesday night at the Basin Fieldhouse.
Someone who played against Baker took notice-someone with professional ties.
"He came up to Reid and said, ‘What’re you doing now with your soccer?’" Reid’s father, Mike Baker said.
The gentleman who noticed Reid was a former player for FC Korsholm, a professional soccer team in Finland. While on vacation in the United States, the front office of the club told him to keep an eye out for budding American talent.
Baker had already completed a trial with local Major League Soccer team Real Salt Lake and was looking to get his foot in a door any way possible.
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"He’s always said, ‘I’ll go anywhere in the world for that first shot,’" Mike Baker said.
However, when Baker came home that Wednesday night to tell his parents he had basically been offered a pro soccer contract, the reaction from Mike Baker and his wife, Kathleen, was shock.
"I thought he was joking," Mike Baker said.
Of all places, Reid Baker was discovered in his backyard.
"I knew that with hard work, and the ability to play and read the game the way I do, that one day I could possibly achieve my goal of playing professional soccer," the 2006 PCHS graduate said in an e-mail interview with The Park Record.
Now, the enormously talented midfielder is living his dream. In his first professional match with FC Korsholm, he scored his first professional goal. His contract with the club runs until the end of October.
The club is located in Vaasa, Finland, on the coast in the southwest part of the country. According to Mike Baker, the club didn’t win a match a season ago, and the front office decided to revamp the roster; Reid became part of that process. So far this season FC Korsholm is 1-2-1 in its regular season matches, according to Mike Baker.
Baker, who moved to Finland in late March, said the transition has been testing for him, but he knows he must always be on top of his game in order to dress for each match.
"Trainings are very serious and everything is run much more professional than anything I have been a part of before," Baker said. "The competition is very high; we have a roster of 30 guys, so making the 18-man roster for the games is something on everyone’s mind every training (session).
"Soccer in Finland is a very different game for me; at first glance (it) wouldn’t look like I would fit in too. (There are) a lot of strong players, tackling hard, working hard defensively. I have become a link on my team that they do not have, so helping settle the game and create for my team is something that my club and its fans have expressed thanks for."
Create, Baker has done, and done for a long time. He won two 3A state championships (2004, 2006) during his time at PCHS and an astounding four Utah state club championships with the Salt Lake Valley-based team, Inter FC.
Mike Baker said his son has always put in the extra hours to improve his game.
"(Soccer) was always really his main driver," he said. "Even when he was playing basketball, he’d be kicking the ball out on the court.
"You never had to tell him to do anything. He’s always been very self-motivated."
That motivation earned him the training stint with RSL, against some of the better players in professional American soccer, something he said was a memorable experience.
"They are a great team," he said. "I trained with the whole team, and it showed me that the level is not too far off. I feel that with some more experience I could be at that level in a matter of time."
As Baker’s days with FC Korsholm are technically numbered, he is already looking forward to the next step. His mother is of Italian descent, and he actually spent six months in Italy his sophomore year of high school playing on club teams and attending an Italian high school. Once Reid’s contract is up, Mike Baker said his son could be heading to Italy in search of professional-team tryouts.
Wherever the next stop may be, Reid is ready to embrace it.
"For now, I’m focused on the present and producing results for my club, and who knows what the future will bring," he said.
Mike Baker can’t help but look back to that Wednesday night when his son’s skills were noticed by an unexpected and complete stranger.
"It was just serendipity," he said.