While home on winter break I wanted to keep my writing skills up and knew of an athlete from my hometown who is excelling both on the court and in the classroom at her own college. I emailed my old editor at the Woodford Courier well before winter break to get the okay for the following feature. So, here you are — Enjoy! And good luck next season, Abby.
Growing up Abby Barrow never saw herself playing sports at the collegiate level. Now the 2014 Metamora Township High School graduate has a chance to earn a spot amongst the top athletes to play volleyball at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
The outside hitter has tallied 289, 342 and 223, respectively in her first three years playing for Saluki coach Justin Ingram. She needs 271 kills to move into the top-10 and admits moving into the top-10 would be “super cool.” The senior-to-be credits the SIU coaching staff for her growth on and off the court.
“I think it was definitely a blessing that I got this opportunity to play there (SIU),” she said. “Just how much they’ve taught me that I never would’ve known before and see how much I’ve progressed as a player, person and student.”
Ingram, who recruited Barrow out of high school, said he was confident she was willing to put in the work to be a key member for the Salukis.
“A lot of growth had to be put in for her to be where she is at,” he said. “We were confident that she was willing to put in those efforts to gain strength and to gain performance and what do you know, now she’s certainly one of the top outside hitters in the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Her on-court performance is not the only thing earning her recognition. This past season Barrow earned MVC Scholar Athlete honors for her second season in a row. With a current GPA of 3.89, the Metamora grad learned early on the keys to being successful.
The Salukis spend several days a week on the road, and Barrow learned to take advantage of the many resources available to athletes and the importance of staying ahead in her course work.
“It’s really important, especially during the season, that we get our stuff done way ahead of time,” she said. “We’ll travel on Thursday and be gone until late Saturday night. … It’s always helpful to get the things done before we even travel.”
She also said it is important to have good communication with professors, have the discipline to make time to study and to not be afraid to ask for help early in the season.
When Barrow is not on the court or studying for a class, the exercise science major is active in ensuring a successful career after SIU. A member of ‘Strong Survivors,’ a program that helps cancer survivors and caregivers gain their strength back after the effects of cancer provides her with real world experience that she may not typically be exposed to working in a gym while still pursuing her degree.
The program educates students about the different types of cancer, the effects it has on patients both mentally and physically to help them create an exercise program designed for each client to maintain the strength needed for daily activities.
Ingram said being a member of the program is a testament to the type of person Barrow is.
“She’s a caring person,” he said. “Anytime you are impacted by others’ struggles you can certainly gain strength and she is no doubt a strong person and a very caring individual.”
Barrow being a member of the program she is not only helping her team mature, but it is also helping her be as valuable as possible after SIU, Ingram said.
“The idea that after this (SIU) is done they’re able to get the best job that they could possibly get and be prepared for it…those are things that are very valuable.”