NC State's Jessica Baity: Kickstart for Christ

  • Name: Jessica Baity
  • Age: 21
  • Organization: NC State women's soccer

(Photo: 2011 Kickstart for Christ campers and coordinators, including founder Jessica Baity.)

Author: Patrick Kinas, creator.

While pursuing a teaching dream, an NC State women’s soccer player has touched her home county through her mind, spirituality and her athletically trained feet. Jessica Baity has accomplished this without yet having set foot into a classroom. At just the age of 20, she’s been able to connect with her heart of a teacher, her love of Christ and her skills on the pitch.

Wolfpack junior midfielder Jessica Baity is in line to continue a family tradition. While her dad is a civil engineer, when you peel back the layers of the Baity family tree, one theme is constant. A love of teaching. Jessica’s grandmother was a teacher. Her aunt is an assistant principal. Her mom is a teacher and also homeschooled the Baity girls, along with other kids from her tiny town in Yadkin County, located in the western Piedmont Triad area.

The teaching magnet has been drawing Jessica in for years, both in the classroom and on the soccer pitch.

“Teaching is my passion,” Baity said. “There is something about seeing kids develop, being able to grow, and knowing you can have a big impact on their lives.”

“I have a saying: Everything you need to know, you’ll learn in kindergarten.”

“All of the foundations you need originate in kindergarten. The first year of school is their first interaction outside of the home. It’s my job to teach them things outside home and how to deal with adversity. I advocate that every student has a different background and specialization. My job is to try to find out what makes each of these kids unique.”

Baity grew up in Yadkinville, NC, a modest and humble town nestled 75 miles due north of Charlotte. In her formative years, Baity, her sister Jennifer and other kids would assemble for school, have a weeklong lesson plan laid out by a tutor, then Jessica’s mom swept through to educate the kids.

Baity also had to educate herself on the college soccer process, and figure out a way for a budding Division I soccer player to be seen from a tiny rural town where the town’s traffic lights number in the single digits.

Leave it to the resourceful Baity to find a way to make it happen.

“I decided when 13 or 14 that I wanted to play,” Baity said. “But teaching and kids were a big part of my life too, so I started looking at teaching fellow opportunities along with playing major soccer. I started emailing all of the coaches. Steve (Springthorpe, former NC State head coach) came to see me play. . I really wanted to not just play at NC State, but get a teaching fellow. Then I started praying about it. I got it for both.“

Kickstart for Christ

Jessica’s interest in sports was spawned at the age of four, when she was lured to softball, but when the art of fastpitch didn’t entice her, she turned to soccer.

Fortunately for Jessica, her parents had a vision as well. A rather large backyard helped as well.

When the soccer bug bit, her dad turned her vast backyard into a regulation soccer field. Not only would this field help hone Baity’s considerable soccer skills, but years later, it would also be home to one of the most special missions in all of Yadkin County.

“Having our field allowed me and my sister to start playing, and playing a lot,” Baity recalled. “Our field had full size goals, we had friends over to play and even soccer practices. We’d spend 2-3 hours on the field every day.”

Yadkinville is the largest town in the entire county. However, at just over 2,800 people, opportunities were slim, particularly athletic opportunities for girls. That’s where Baity’s creative juices started flowing.

“I grew up playing on the boys’ soccer team,” Baity said. “Girls soccer wasn’t growing in Yadkin County at that time. So the summer after my freshman year in high school, I was looking for a special way to get involved in community.”

“We had a big soccer field in our backyard. I thought to myself, how can I use it while impacting my community. So I came up with the idea of starting a girls’ soccer camp.”

Kickstart for Christ was born.

Mission: We have a passion for soccer, for young girls and sharing the word of God.

The camp is free to the kids, funded by local businesses and the kindness of the people of Yadkinville. T-shirts, snacks and other camp needs are all donated by the do-gooders of the community and through Baity’s church, Courtney Baptist.

What started out as a grass-roots, word-of-mouth effort with about 20 kids participating, has now doubled in size, and positively impacted over 100 girls of Yadkin County.

Each summer for the past four years, Baity orchestrated a soccer camp that was equal parts drills, scrimmages and bible study. Every camp has a bible verse theme that the kids would discuss during lunch. A soccer and spiritual camaraderie had been forged.

“When I go home and the girls see me, they come up and talk to me,” Baity said beamingly. “They want to tell me about their lives.”

As part of Baity’s teaching fellow, when she graduates she’ll be required to teach four of her next seven years in the North Carolina school system.

As for Baity’s Kickstart for Christ soccer camp, Baity turned over the reins to her younger sister Jennifer, who has maintained Jessica’s tradition. In the summer of 2014, the camp baton will be handed to a third generation with her cousin Michaela to keep the camp alive for a 5th year to serve the dozens of Yadkin County girls looking for a treasured spot to fill their spirits with the passion of soccer and Christ.

(Photo courtesy: Jessica Baity.)

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