With a pair of Top 20 opponents on the schedule this weekend, LibertyFlames.com turns its attention to Natalie Barr, this week's field hockey player spotlight.
Barr is a senior captain for the Lady Flames, currently tied with Ashlee Krulock for the most goals on the team this season with six. Barr is currently the program's all-time leader in goals (46), assists (21) and points (113).
The Lurgan, Northern Ireland native has led the Lady Flames to back-to-back NCAA appearances, including the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory over Richmond, 3-1, on Nov. 12, 2014.
Who introduced you to field hockey? Barr: I was introduced to the sport very early by my teacher at the age of 7. She asked me to come to after school practice and I really didn't love it and I didn't plan on attending it again! However, she kept bugging me to come along and even spoke to my parents about me joining a local club and attending other practices on Saturday mornings. After some time I started to enjoy the sport and started making friends and I really fell in love with the game and everything about it. My family and I remain very close to that teacher who introduced me to field hockey and I owe so much to her.
Tell me about your family. What do your parents, or guardians, do? How many brothers or sisters do you have and what do they do? Barr: I am one of six children, having one older brother and four sisters (two of which are also on the field hockey team). My dad is a doctor and my mom works and spends most of her time working for Charlene's Project, which is a charity set up by my older sister Charlene who passed away in October 2010. My parents are Bethany, Serena's and my biggest fans and try to come across to the states and watch as many games as possible! My eldest brother, David is a teacher back home in Northern Ireland and my older sister, Becs is training to be a midwife back home. Then my two younger sisters, Bethany and Serena are also at Liberty and on the team too! I also had an older sister Charlene, who lost her fight to cystic fibrosis in 2010 but started a charity called Charlene's Project with the aim to help impoverished children across the world through education, sports and health promotion. As a family we have continued to run this charity in memory of Charlene, and Charlene's Project is now working in both Uganda and Guatemala.
If you weren't playing field hockey which sport would you enjoy playing? Barr: I used to be in a swimming club and as I got older I had to make the choice between swimming and field hockey. I obviously chose field hockey and dropped out of the swimming club that I was a member of. So if I wasn't playing field hockey I probably would have continued swimming competitively.
Tell us your recruiting story on how you got to Liberty. Barr: Well this story is quite long and crazy...so I will shorten it as best I can. But I had begun attending a university back home in Northern Ireland when I received communication from Coach Murphy asking if I would ever be interested in coming to the states to play field hockey. I really wasn't that interested at first until I heard that Coach had been to Uganda and shared the similar passion of this country that I also had. It was when I began sharing my story and she shared hers that I realized there was a bigger picture that God was forming. After many amazing different things happening I felt that God was telling me to go to Liberty. I originally came to Liberty as a transfer student with the purpose of only staying here for a year. However, God had different plans!
If you could get away from field hockey for a little bit, what would you enjoy doing? Barr: If I could away from my sport and have more time on my hand I probably would spend this time hiking as I really enjoy being outdoors and exploring new places with friends.
What are you studying, and what do you enjoy about that? Barr: I am currently pursuing my Master in Arts of Teaching in Elementary Education. I really enjoy learning more about how as humans we learn. I like to use this knowledge to impact and help myself become a more effective teacher. I also love learning new creative teaching ideas and resources which can be used to help teach my students. I look forward in the future to using all that I have learned over the last four years here at Liberty to help my own students reach their academic potential and also know how valued and loved they are.
Who were your heroes growing up, and who did you emulate in the backyard or playground? Barr: My sporting heroes are Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, who were both Liverpool players. My whole family are crazy Liverpool supporters and we all admired both of these footballers and how much loyalty they had to Liverpool and the sport of football (or soccer for you Americans).
Having dropped back-to-back contests against Top 20 opponents, how do you as the captain prepare the team for consecutive ranked opponents this weekend? Barr: Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcomes of the last two games. However, as a team we are aware that it is still early in the season and we have valuable lessons to learn from both of these games. I know that we will come out stronger after these two defeats and that we will learn from the mistakes that we made in these games. I know that all of the girls are excited for the next games to come and as a team we always try to take every game as it comes and not get too far ahead of ourselves. I know that we will continue to do that for the next games to come. This next week in practice is a time for us to regroup and come together again and prepare for this weekend's game. As a captain, I just am always trying to encourage and challenge everyone, myself included to keep striving for our best.
You have clearly made your mark at Liberty as you are the current all-time leader in goals, assists and points. What does it mean for you to have left such a legacy in this program? Barr: It means so much to me and I have loved being a part of Liberty University's field hockey program. However, I hope my mark on this program will be bigger and more than statistics can show. I want to have impacted my teammates and continue that impact as they leave this program. I hope the mark that I leave will be that all of my teammates know that I genuinely love and care for them and want the best for them. I pray that after I leave this program I will be remembered as a player who sacrificially loved her teammates and always pushed them toward Christ. For me, that is so much more important than anything statistics can show.
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