Though he stands 6’3” and 230 lbs in his crimson and white letterman jacket, covered with four all-league title patches, one all-CIF title patch, two league champion patches, four Lion’s Club patches, seven varsity bars, and a brand new CIF champion patch, senior Jonathan Baldwin possesses one of the calmest, most modest demeanors a star athlete has been blessed with, a temperament backed up by his whisper-like voice.
Though he wouldn’t speak up of such things himself, Baldwin’s Bearcat career – which includes football, baseball, and basketball – has earned him an impressive stack of awards, including four Lion’s Club Awards and all-league recognition in both football and baseball. Among all of these letters and awards, the Lion’s Club Awards stand out most to Baldwin, showing what being a teammate means to him.
“It’s voted on by your teammates and it represents more than just athletic ability. It’s who represents the team the best. I like to think that I represent the team well, or that I try to,” said Baldwin, whose grandpa and uncle played football for Stanford and Cal Lutheran, respectively.
While he may be proudest of the recognition from his teammates, the most significant accolade Baldwin earned is a football scholarship to Northern Arizona University, an honor the hulking pass-catcher happily accepted. The main draw for Baldwin to head to NAU was the feel of the campus, which is akin to PRHS.
“When I first went up there for a camp over the summer, it was the first camp I went to, something immediately clicked. It was still a small town like Paso. I don’t think I’m ready for the big time yet. It’s just a great environment,” said Baldwin, who signed his letter of intent on Feb 4.
Anyone who knows Baldwin well knows how deep his Paso pride runs; he plans to raise his own family here, just as his parents did with him. He’s shown off this pride well at War Memorial Stadium, Barnhart Field and in the Gil Asa Memorial Gym. On the gridiron, Baldwin hauled in 30 receptions for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also managed a two interception, three touchdown game in the season opener against Clovis, while establishing a reputation as a big moment player. Not only did he begin the season as a hero, but he ended it that way, making the only touchdown in the CIF Championship football game against Newbury Park Dec 5. Junior quarterback Justin Davis passed the ball to Baldwin, who ran it 34 yards to the endzone, ultimately crowning PRHS as the CIF champs.
Amidst the praise and success of becoming CIF champions, what stood out most to Baldwin was being recognized by the community of Bearcat alumni.
“Getting approached by old players and fans that have been around for a long time and saying how proud they are of what we were able to do this year, that hit the most,” Baldwin said.
This mantle of success carried over onto the baseball diamond, where Baldwin managed a .86 ERA, two wins, and eight saves over 40.2 innings. Some of the crowning moments of the season were coming through in the clutch on the road against San Luis Obispo and St. Joseph, games in which he pitched 4.1 and 6.1 scoreless innings, respectively, earning the win in each. These kinds of performances are the ones coaches love to see, as head football coach Rich Schimke believes Baldwin has made a name for himself as someone to depend on.
“He makes plays, watching him on the mound he’s an imposing figure up there, he gets people out, and I think if he would’ve played some more years of basketball he would’ve been dominating out there as well, but [he] definitely met my expectations and more, and I’m looking forward to big things from him at NAU,” said Schimke, who coached Baldwin for three years at the varsity level.
Baldwin plans on playing tight end at NAU with a chance to split time his freshman year, a chance that he has made one of his goals for his first year. If he isn’t able to play freshman year, he’ll redshirt, giving him an extra year of eligibility further down the road. However, Schimke thinks Baldwin can be an impact player right away, and sees big things in the massive tight end’s future.
“I think the sky’s the limit for him, I think he’s gonna have a great career there, I can see him playing, actually, this year as a true freshman, but his body is just gonna transform. He’s got the size, he’s got the heart, and he’s got the brain to go with it,” Schimke said.