Monday, February 3, 2014

Jennifer Barnett Steps Into Justin's World

First-team all-conference and a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist, Jennifer Barnett's final season as a collegiate athlete was a great one. A versatile hitter and defender, she began her career as an infield/outfield role player to an everyday designated hitter to the starting first baseman in her final campaign.

A career .327 hitter in more than 560 at-bats, JB was just one of those players that got the job done just when she needed to. Her name appears several times in the Indiana high school record books. (More on that in the interview below.)

Following her excellent playing career, JB began her career as a nurse. But she couldn't leave behind the game she loves and signed on as an assistant coach at Butler University. She officially begins her career as a coach on February 8th, as the Bulldogs take on Belmont in the Music City Classic.

For those of you who use social networking, be sure to follow Jennifer on Twitter @JBarnett6.

Just a few of the topics we discussed include:
     - How she first started playing softball
     - The one pitcher she would love to face
     - Her favorite award she's received
     - Her thoughts on the 2014 Huskies

Justin’s World: How did you get your start playing the game of softball?
Jennifer Barnett: My parents signed me up at a local league when I was 7 years old. I played every sport growing up, but I absolutely loved softball and kept playing from then on! 

JW: When did you really know that softball was “your game” and was potentially something that could get you a scholarship, etc.?
JB: I knew because of my passion and the drive that I had towards the game. I would always drag my dad out to throw or work on things. No one ever had to tell me to practice. I was always the one wanting to do extra work whenever I could. 

JW: Who is your hero; how has that person influenced your on-field play?
JB: My parents have been awesome role models for me. Their work ethics are amazing and I believe they are the reason why I want to work so hard in everything that I do.

JW: If you could step into the box and hit against any pitcher from history, who would it be and why?
JB: Lindsay Chouinard. She was an 3x All American at DePaul and my head coach at NIU my freshman-junior seasons. (Now she is the associate head coach at DePaul who is in the Big East like Butler) I learned to love the lefty-lefty matchup and the challenge of it!

JW: You were given some notoriety right off the bat, earning a MAC All-Freshman team nod after your freshman year… what was it like for you to be able to move right into college and be an immediate star?
JB: My coaches at NIU, teammates, parents, and former travel ball coaches made it a really easy transition for me. All of them gave me confidence and reminded me that it was the same game just on a different stage.

JW: If you could go back in time and change or redo one moment from your career and/or life, when would you like to travel back to?
JB: I don't think I would change any moment! I believe everything happens for a reason and I am who I am because of those experiences!

JW: Give me your expectations for the 2014 NIU softball squad.
JB: My expectations are pretty high for the team this year. I am looking forward to seeing the girls' MAC Championship Rings on their fingers! The entire team returns except myself and Amanda Sheppard (SS) so the field and lineup should be pretty solid. Look for great leadership from Shelby Miller, Ashley Kopp, and Emily Norton on and off the field. 

JW: Your name also appears in the record books for the entire state of Indiana, as you hold the third-highest career batting average in the state. How awesome is it to know you and your accomplishments will be remembered forever?
JB: It is pretty cool to think about! I always encourage girls I have coached and give lessons to to break those records!

JW: How great of an honor was it to be selected as a semi-finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in 2013? That’s a pretty prestigious award!
JB: Indescribable. I happened to be following Lowe's Senior CLASS on twitter, saw the release and I was so shocked! It was exciting to be among such a great group of players. It was an amazing feeling being chosen and recognized from a mid-major school, as well.

JW: You’re going to be a Volunteer Assistant for the Butler softball program this upcoming season… was coaching always something you hoped to pursue after your playing days were done?
JB: Absolutely! I coached every summer during college and loved everything about it! I think coaching is even more rewarding than playing in many aspects! 

JW: If you had to pick a single award or accolade that you earned during your collegiate career that really stands out or is particularly special to you, which would it be and why?
JB: That's a hard one! They are all special to me, but if I had to pick one it would probably be the Nan Harvey Sportswoman of the Year because it recognizes more than just on field performance. The award is given because of commitment, leadership, and a tenacious attitude like Nan Harvey. 

JW: Why did you choose nursing as your profession? Is being a nurse something you’ve always wanted to do?
JB: I've always loved the medical field. I've always watched all of the medical shows on TV, too! I was thinking about being a doctor, but then I shadowed a nurse while I was in high school. I liked the patient interaction that nurses had with patients that the doctors did not have! I knew from that moment nursing it was! After that, I knew I wanted to specialize in a certain part of nursing. I loved oncology because of the wonderful patients, families, and the challenge. I just started my job on a bone marrow transplant unit and love it! 

JW: Did you consider furthering your career into the professional league or internationally?
JB: I really did not think that was for me. After I graduated in May, I had my nursing career to pursue, as well as being a coach. Coaching has kept me involved in the game and after two foot surgeries in my collegiate career, I felt like my body needed to move on from the actual playing. 

JW: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could take three items with you (boats and phones off-limits), what would you carry along with you?
JB: Lighters to make instant fire because I am always cold, sweet tea because it’s my favorite and something I can't live without, and of course my softball bat for both protection and entertainment

JW: If you could sit down and have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
Peyton Manning-who is my favorite athlete and such a good role model!
Sandra Bullock-my favorite actress and would add some humor to the conversation
Rachael Ray-(hopefully she would cook some of the dinner) I love her show and her recipes!

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