Washington Spirit’s Aubrey Kingsbury trades goalkeeping gloves for baking mitts during offseason internship

Washington Spirit’s Aubrey Kingsbury trades goalkeeping gloves for baking mitts

Aubrey Kingsbury has experience performing in high-pressure moments on a weekly basis. As the goalkeeper of the Washington Spirit, the 32-year-old has led its defense for more than seven seasons, winning two Goalkeeper of the Year awards and an NWSL Championship.

However, for three early mornings in January, Kingsbury traded in her goalkeeper gloves for a baking apron as part of an internship with Village Sweet Bakery in Arlington, Virginia. Instead of focusing on defending her own net, she cracked some eggs and learned multiple recipes, including the bakery’s most popular: dark chocolate orange scones.

“I’ll admit I was a little nervous,” Kingsbury told WTOP. “I didn’t want to mess anything up.”

Baking is a passion Kingsbury shares with her twin sister Amber and her mother Shar. For her wedding, the Cincinnati native made her own cake while her sister made desserts for guests. In recent years, Kingsbury has become the Spirit’s unofficial baker, bringing in cakes and cookies to celebrate her teammates’ birthdays.

“It’s just something I enjoy, and I see how it brings other people so much joy,” Kingsbury said. “Like, you can’t be sad when you’re eating a cookie, in my opinion.”

Kingsbury always had an interest in learning how a bakery is run.

She’s tried working at one before, dating back to when the Spirit played in the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland. She completed her Master of Business Administration in December, after three years at Shenandoah University, with the hopes of opening her own bakery one day.

Theresa McDonnell, Washington’s chief operating officer, approached Kingsbury about an apprenticeship with Village Sweet Bakery during the team’s offseason. She visited the establishment and met with owner and head baker Dawn Hart, who told WTOP she wanted to give Kingsbury “firsthand experience as best we could without her actually quitting her day job.”

“It was a great opportunity to show somebody what it’s really like,” Hart said. “It’s very different, owning a bakery and working in a bakery than it is looking in it.”

The Spirit captain came in at 3 a.m. for her shifts, starting to obverse Hart and the other bakers on staff before having to get her hands busy. She mixed ingredients, zested fruits into batter and scooped cookies to get them into the oven.

According to Hart, Kingsbury’s passion for baking made her internship easier.

She knew how to prepare recipes, assist with making scones and cookies while understanding the time management skills needed in the kitchen. Having Kingsbury in the kitchen during those early mornings brought joy to the bakery, Hart said, adding that she was a great person to talk to.

Village Sweet Bakery is a scratch bakery, meaning all the baked goods are made from start to finish with the raw ingredients. (WTOP/José Umaña)
Scones are the Arlington bakery’s most popular item. (WTOP/José Umaña)
Owner and head baker Dawn Hart mixes ingredients together to prepare a cake. (WTOP/José Umaña)
Washington Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury spent three days in the offseason at Arlington-based Village Sweet Bakery as part of an internship. (WTOP/José Umaña)

Despite her successful run, there were struggles. Kingsbury admitted it was difficult waking up for those early morning shifts and said it caused her to add extra ingredients by accident during the mixing process.

“There were a couple times like I spaced out a little bit and accidentally grabbed, I think, a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon,” she said. “Everything was salvageable, and she (Hart) was there to help out and make sure I didn’t go rogue.”

On her last day, Kingsbury handled the register. The Spirit’s social media accounts called for fans to head to Arlington to watch their captain in action. Supporters came in and took photos with Kingsbury while getting their morning coffee.

While it was only three days, Kingsbury said she gained a whole new appreciation for how big of an operation a small bakery can become. She better understood timing in a commercialized kitchen.

If granted the chance to open a bakery at the end of her career, she would want her family involved to help and be a part of the “team effort.”

“I think, should she decide to do that, she’s gonna kill it,” Hart said of Kingsbury having her own bakery. “She’s gonna be great.”

Kingsbury said if Hart ever needs a helping hand during the Spirit’s offseason, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, that she is available to provide support. The goalkeeper added she plans to bring her family to Arlington to meet Hart and take a tour of Village Sweet Bakery.

“Even if it’s just being a frequent customer, I will get everyone to go there,” Kingsbury said. “I will definitely have some relationship with Village Sweet in the future.”

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José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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