Barker plans to continue both soccer and basketball after solid freshman seasons

Franklin College women’s basketball player and Columbus North grad Lauren Barker is introduced before a Grizzlies game this season. Photo provided by Zayne Spangler

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Lauren Barker is in a rare company of college athletes.

Barker recently completed her first full season of playing both women’s soccer and basketball for Franklin College. It was a big freshman year for the 2023 Columbus North graduate, who looks to play both sports for the next three years.

Playing two sports isn’t new for Barker. She played both soccer and basketball in high school for the Bull Dogs. Both sports also helped in the type of schedule she’d be facing in college.

While the college adjustment is hard for everyone, many college athletes would have a difficult time trying to manage both the academic and athlete workload. For Barker, it was natural to her, being in this position for her entire life.

“I felt like high school for me with the hard classes I was in was pretty demanding, so it taught me a lot about time management and work ethic,” Barker said. “But then in college, I’m in class for a shorter amount of time. A lot of times, my work outside of class is more demanding and sometimes larger, but I also have more time on my hands during the day.”

Barker said the most difficult adjustment from high school to college for her was the longer busrides to the road games. To help plan out the busy schedule she has, Barker said that she writes down all the things she needs to do for the day the night before, whether it is her class times that day, when to do homework, team practices and games.

“It helps me keep on track. If I don’t, it’s easy to let things slip and forget things and fall behind,” Barker said. “Creating that schedule before the day even starts has helped me a lot too with that balancing act and staying on top of things.”

During both soccer and basketball seasons, she typically played two or three games a week on different days of the week, which doesn’t help in trying to establish a weekly routine. Once Barker got into Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play, the schedule was much easier playing two games a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. However, she couldn’t begin playing basketball for the Grizzlies until her soccer season was finished. It helped her in the transition of balancing both sports and her academics at the same time.

“It makes the balancing act much easier because when I’m in a sport, I’m committed to it,” Barker said. “We would play three games a week, but then in conference, it becomes a much more steady schedule.”

Franklin College women’s soccer player and Columbus North grad Lauren Barker looks up the field during a Grizzlies game this season. Photo provided by Chad Williams

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Barker had a slight setback during soccer season when she was hit in the ear, causing her to lose hearing initially, but she gradually gained it back in a week and was having some vertigo symptoms. Shortly after that, she had strep throat and then experienced side effects from the antibiotics for the strep throat. She said that continued for about 12 days.

“I definitely went through several weeks where I was trying to go to practice, but couldn’t really go to practice, trying to go to school, but couldn’t go to school, so it was like I was in a hole or a rut mentally. Physically trying to push through this stuff was really difficult,” Barker said. “Once I got out of that, things got better. I did have to work really hard on school to get back to where I wanted because I didn’t feel like my grades are where I want to be. Obviously, I kept pushing through with soccer, and I eventually got back.

“That as an experience taught me a lot about myself,” she added. “I ended up doing well on my academics, but I had to work really hard at it. Overcoming that, I feel the lesson I learned through it is you can’t control these things. It basically showed me what I was capable of.”

Barker played in 16 of the 19 soccer games for the Grizzlies this season, netting four goals and adding two assists. During basketball, she averaged 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in all 27 games this season.

Barker originally intended to major in business, but plans changed. She has decided to major in public relations, with a minor in business. She said her career goal was to be a real estate agent.

“I feel like it has been a good fit for me. I feel like it’s something I’m really interested in, something I may want to do in my future,” Barker said. “Even though it is not directly correlated to real estate, all of it is applicable real world stuff. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Barker originally was just going to play basketball in college, but by going to an NCAA Division III school, it gave her the opportunity to play both sports as opposed to Division I, D-II or NAIA, where there is overlap between the regular seasons.

Barker said she plans to continue playing both sports.

“I don’t have a reason not to. I’m doing well in my academics and staying pretty healthy. I feel like I can balance it all. I don’t feel like it’s too overwhelming. I don’t worry about it being hard. Hard doesn’t scare me,” Barker said. “I loved doing both this year. It felt pretty similar to high school. It was adjustment to times and the longer bus rides on the road. I really loved playing soccer. I was really glad I asked to play that. Some of those girls have become my best friends. The team culture and all those were important, so I’m glad I chose to do that.”