Senior Bailey Dorrington has been the leader of the Bulldog defense ever since she took over at the centre back position. For someone who shows such dominance in that spot, it’s surprising that Dorrington was not meant to be a defender at all.
“Bailey was recruited as a midfielder, and over the last two seasons she has developed into a staple at centre back for us,” Head Coach Lindsey Horner said.
Dorrington was a successful offensive player during high school, setting a school record at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with 118 career goals. She also led the team to three state championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
However, with then-senior Blair Nelson moving from centre back to centre midfielder, and then-centre back Katie Sauer graduating, the Bulldogs needed someone to fill the vacancy.
“It was really hard; I had never played centre back at a high level,” Dorrington said. “It was quite the process, but my coaches and the upperclassmen helped me make a smooth adjustment.”
Despite seeing some time at centre back her sophomore year, it wasn’t until last season when Dorrington started 20 games at centre back for a Bulldog squad that made it to the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semi-finals. This year, she has commanded a defensive front that has registered seven shutouts, which is a huge reason why Drake owns an impressive 8-4-3 ledger.
“She leads vocally and by example, on and off the field,” sophomore Laura Moklestad said. “She is a solid defender who has been vital in all of our games.”
A marketing major, Dorrington has stepped up to fill the role of emotional leader on the field, and has become a mentor to the younger players on the squad.
“Bailey is compassionate, and that makes her very good with our younger players,” Horner said. “She wants her teammates to succeed, and helps to get the most out of them.”
Junior Melanie Fielder recalls the kind of impact that Dorrington had when she first arrived to Des Moines. Fielder, who comes from Burbank, Calif., had a tough time adjusting to life away from home.
“Bailey has been there for me since the beginning, even before I had verbally committed to Drake,” Fielder said. “Being from Los Angeles, and her from Iowa, it takes a special person to leave such an impact at such a young age.”
That’s exactly the kind of leader that Dorrington has grown to be — a reliable, vocal and consistent soccer player who leads by example. After all, it’s not like Dorrington has not had to face adversity of her own.
In addition to learning to play a different position, Dorrington has battled injuries throughout her career. In her freshman year, Dorrington split open her forehead and suffered a concussion against then-nationally ranked No. 3 Florida. She has also had back problems and knee problems. Last season, Dorrington tore her ACL.
“I just tried to take it one injury at a time,” Dorrington said. “Every injury gave me the opportunity to start fresh. I looked at the other people on my team and I thought, if they can do it, I can do it.”
Playing in her final season for Drake, Dorrington’s charismatic personality off the field will be sorely missed in the Bulldog locker room.
“Bailey is fun-loving, carefree, great to be around and motivating,” Fielder said. “She loves to take care of others and is always there whenever you need her.”
As for all those long trips on the road, there will be lasting memories that will never go away for a young Bulldog squad.
“I can attest to the fact that she thinks she is better at any card game than she actually is,” Horner said.
It will be difficult to replace a player like Dorrington; a well-rounded individual, who was named to the MVC academic honor roll last season, and became the leader for the Bulldogs.
“Going to a school like this, playing Division I soccer for a school that I love; it’s been the experience of a lifetime,” Dorrington said. “Drake has overall made me a better person academically, soccer-wise and relationship-wise.”
Hopefully, the Bulldogs will continue their early season success to send Dorrington off with a fitting finish to her career.
“Never a dull moment with her,” Fielder said. “We lived together for about three weeks one summer, and it was non-stop laughs. We’ve had the nights of just sitting in and eating brownies, and the nights of getting all dolled up and having some fun. I’m going to miss her so much next year.”
Photo: Eduardo Zamarripa