Greg Baker recalled the season he knew Trinity Rodman was a special soccer player.
Baker, who coached the dominant girls’ soccer club, the Southern California Blues, first met Rodman as a promising 9-year-old girl with a famous last name.
But by the time she turned 16, the daughter of NBA superstar Dennis Rodman began to noticably pull ahead of her peers at practice.
“You could tell her teammates looked at her differently and [they] could tell she was getting to a different level,” Baker told The Post.
On Friday, Baker will be watching as Rodman, now 21, makes her World Cup debut for the US Women’s National Team in New Zealand.
They’ll be taking on Vietnam.
While Rodman is one of the youngest on the squad, her creative, attacking style of play and unflappable nature have been forged by both personal and on field adversity. In 2019, her team was taking on a Virginia squad in the national championship game when parents on the opposing team started chirping at her.
“It was getting heated on the sidelines, and people like to go at Trin because of her last name,” Baker said. “The best way to describe it was verbal jabs, saying she is overrated.”
Baker said it got under the skin of Rodman’s mother Michelle Moyer – and also ignited something in the star forward.
“It was on at that point. Trin starts blitzing players and putting on a show. She looked like a next level athlete. When she is motivated, look out,” said Baker adding that “it’s scary, in fact.”
That’s now a warning for the top female soccer players on earth, as Rodman steps onto the international stage.
The United States is looking for something synonymous with the Rodman name: a threepeat.
The women are defending the World Cup they won in France in 2019, and Canada in 2015.
But the 5 foot 10 rising star — who has been open about her on-and-off relationship with her father — is forging her own path.
Rodman has been called a “generational talent” by Sports Illustrated.
She’s netted endorsements with Adidas, Oakley and Bose, a record-setting National Women’s Soccer League contract and has a playful and endearing Tiktok presence.
“Most of the young fans don’t know who Dennis is. Maybe they know him a little, but Trin is the rock star for anyone 30 and under,” said Baker, who still periodically trains her.
Born in Newport Beach, Rodman is the youngest of the former hoop star’s three children.
Her mother married the flamboyant NBA legend in May 2003 and though their union didn’t last, it produced two kids including Rodman and her older brother DJ, who recently transferred to USC to play hoops (Moyer has an older daughter from another relationship).
Dennis was a sporadic presence. “I think I only saw him three times in ten years,” said Baker.
That theme extended to his financial contributions. As a result, the family struggled, and at one point, Moyer and her kids lived in a Comfort Inn, sharing one room.
“She was just a little fun kid who had a crazy life situation and made the most of it on the soccer field. And she loved soccer,” said Baker.
Though she lacked financial means, Rodman was rich in support from her mother, siblings and her club, where she was a scholarship player.
Baker said the safety net and the sport helped “lighten her load.”
Rodman echoed this sentiment.
“Growing up, people didn’t really know what my family and I were going through,” Rodman told Redbull.com. “They didn’t know what we had or didn’t have.
“But when I was on the field, everything was equal— there was no talk about finances or living situations or family stuff. It was just soccer—the ball and the field and me. I was always happy on the field. And I still feel the same way.”
In the 2021 NWSL draft, she was picked second overall by the Washington Spirit and was named the league’s rookie of the year.
A year later, she signed a 4 year deal with the DC team, worth more than $1.1 million, making her the highest paid player in the league.
In 2021, her father surprised his daughter at her a playoff game. She called it “emotional” in an instagram post.
“Yes Dennis rodman showed up to an Nwsl game, but also my dad, after YEARS surprised me at a big game in my career, I was shocked, overwhelmed, happy, sad, everything. My dad doesn’t play a big role in my life at all and most people don’t know that, we don’t see eye to eye on many things. I go months if not years without his presence or communication,” she wrote adding,
“Being in spotlights has been hard for us, him and me. We don’t have the best relationship, but at the end of the day he’s human I’m human… he’s my dad, and I’m his little girl that will never change. I will improve and look forward everyday as I hope he does.”
When it was announced in June, that she was making the 23-woman roster, USWNT put out a video featuring celebrities, athletes and the Bidens to unveil the team.
Rodman’s name was called by her father’s old rival, Shaquille O’Neal who said, “Trinity Rodman, welcome to your first World Cup. Go kick some ass and bring back that victory. Go USA, and congratulations Trinity.”
Rodman was esctactic telling the LA Times, that it was a “full circle moment” and “I want to continue to have that connection with him.”
She didn’t hear from her father, but she said she’s “gotten closure with it all. I know he’s proud of me. I truly do. He has his own things to deal with but at the end of the day, he’s communicated to me that he knows I was going to be here, and that’s all I need.”
But she has studied his game.
She and her brother DJ have watched tape of the prolific rebounder — describing his approach as “hunting.”
“It’s hunting in front of the goal. It’s hunting when you lose the ball,” she said in a press conference, comparing it to her own game. “regains, tracking back and being the first person to get a fooot, a head, a knee, a shin on something that pops up.”
Off the field, Rodman is artistic and likes to paint. She’s into fashion. And Baker said that while she’s open and generous with fans, “she’s actually shy. People might not know that.”
But he’s seen the immense growth in Rodman as a player and a person. She’s bought a house and a car. “She’s being approached by everyone for interviews. But Trin is not searching for fame,” he said. “She wants to be a great footballer.”