She always gave 120 percent. Those will be the words that best chronicle the astounding impact senior outfielder Catie Barber has had on the softball program at Ballard. Head Coach Alan Jones says in all his years coaching, he’s never seen a player not give their all in all facets of the game.
“She is always ready to go,” says Jones. “She loves the game so much and set a goal that she is going to play college ball. When she set foot in here [at Ballard], in order to play college ball, you have to bring your A-game day in and day out. She has stayed focused on that one goal and it shows.”
Barber, who grew up a UofL fan, attended softball camps at the university when she was 7 or 8. From there, she decided to make it her dream school. In her words, she “grew up in the program” even before she committed, and now it’s a privilege to be able to play softball at a high level and continue to play the game she loves.
The most exciting sentiment will be hearing the support from her hometown. She isn’t the only Ballard product who’s committed to the University of Louisville and who often reflects on the first childhood encounters they had with the program or its head coach. Card Nation has amplified its cheers and chants during basketball season at the KFC Yum! Center when they hear, “Starting at guard, from Louisville, No. 2, Quentin Snider!”
Barber falls behind Quentin Snider and other Ballard grads who grew up adoring UofL athletics.
She looks forward to being the hometown hero who at times can carry a team and the city on her back and most importantly, make a tremendous impact at the start.
“I want to be that girl they can turn to and count on,” Barber says. “When it comes to being a big supporter and leader, I step in wherever they need me to. I really want to impact the program on the field, on the bases, and when I am up to bat. Whatever I can do to help the team, I think I will step into that role and take is seriously and take it with confidence. I really want to make sure I leave an impact – whether it is physically or emotionally, I really want to make sure I leave a mark there as well.”
As a varsity starter the past four years, Barber has grown from mentee to mentor and apprentice to veteran in the high school ranks. When she’s in practice and during games, her fixation tends to be on younger teammates who walk in the shoes she was once in. It’s made her realize the importance of leaving behind the right impression.
“This year as a senior, I have really stepped up and been a leader, not only vocally, but also leading by example with the younger kids especially,” she adds. “We have a couple of younger starters, and I like to think I have taken them under my wing and shown them hard work does pay off.
“So when people think of Catie Barber or when they think of Ballard, they think of someone who worked really hard to get to where she was. Something I learned as a really young kid, no matter what kind of day you’re having, on or off, you should always give 120 percent, and I think giving effort and being a leader and always giving more than 100 percent into it is something I want people to remember about me.”
Coach Jones has coached a plethora of talent that has been college-ready their senior season. He says when Barber walks into UofL, she won’t be your average incoming freshman. “UofL is getting a kid that is like a junior instead of a freshman in college,” he says, as Catie has already endured the grueling treatment of weight lifting, hard practices and changes she can expect at the next level.
Could Barber have chosen to play softball at any top program in the nation? Jones believes so, and as a result, hopes UofL understands the caliber of player they are getting.
“UofL is getting a superb player and she needs to be playing, not watching,” Jones argues. “You don’t find much of those kids going to UofL. They are getting a special player, and I hope they know she is the type of player that needs to be in their lineup.” VT