Kate Barber closes out record-setting field hockey career, heads to Indiana
By: Warren Mayes
After she signed her national letter of intent, Lafayette’s Kate Barber left the school’s ceremony and bolted for the airport.
She was headed to Florida to play in a tournament in Orlando. Her club team was competing in the Disney Field Hockey Showcase. Gateway St. Louis Blue went 3-0 in pool play before falling in the flight portion of the tournament.
Barber chose Indiana over Iowa, Michigan State and the University of Massachusetts. She is pleased with her choice.
“I am very excited to be attending Indiana it just hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going away for college next year,” Barber said. “I chose Indiana because it just felt right. I would always be so excited to go and I love the campus and facilities.”
Kate O’Connell, the Lafayette coach, also attended Indiana as did her sister Meg. The O’Connell sisters both played for the Lancers.
“I’m thrilled she’s going to Indiana,” O’Connell said. “Kate is a phenomenal player and she will be so great there. Indiana is a top 15 program and she will step in and be a big contributor right away.”
The fleet-footed Barber showed she wielded a slick stick in her career with the Lancers. She concluded her Lafayette career with a national record-breaking 135 assists.
“Kate’s strengths are her ability to carry the ball with incredible speed and skill,” O’Connell said. “She is the all-around package. She hits the ball better than anyone in the Midwest and she is such a smart player. She knows when we are up to hold the ball and keep possession.”
Barber finished her senior season with 38 goals and 36 assists. As a junior, she produced 89 points on 27 goals and 35 assists. As a sophomore, she scored 20 goals but an astounding 40 assists. That enabled her to make the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s All-America team.
She was a captain since her sophomore year for the Lancers.
“She leads by example,” O’Connell said. “She always rallied the team on the field. We always joked that she is so quiet, but on the field she expects a lot and communicates well.”
Barber finished her career with 92 goals.
Her accolades are numerous, including being named NFHCA Second Team All-American in 2010 and 2012 and NFHCA All-Region in 2010, 2011 and 2012. She also played in the AAU Junior Olympics in 2008 and 2009 and was named to the 2010 Junior Olympics team but chose to go to the Junior National Camp instead. Recently, she was named to the U-19 national training squad, which reported to a camp in January at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Academically, she has been a Lafayette High School Renaissance Scholar Athlete all four years of high school.
Yet for all recognition she’s earned and all her accomplishments, Barber’s highlight of her prep career was a team one.
“My highlight of high school field hockey was winning state,” Barber said.
Barber helped the Lancers defeat Cor Jesu 2-0 to become the first Missouri public school team to win the Midwest Field Hockey Association postseason tournament in 2011. It was the first one by a St. Louis public school since Parkway North won in 1981.
O’Connell said Barber played a big role in winning four consecutive Gateway Classic Championships and winning four consecutive public school tournament championships.
“Winning state is obviously the biggest,” O’Connell said. “She got hurt partway through with an ankle sprain. Everyone was so nervous, but the girls played great, and Kate taped her ankle up and got back out there after 20 minutes.”
Barber began playing field hockey in fourth grade.
“I got into field hockey because my mom (Adrienne) worked with Kelly Yates, the direction of Gateway and since I played soccer, she wanted me to try it out,” Barber said.
Yates is the mother of O’Connell and coached at Lafayette before retiring and handing the coaching duties to her daughter.
“I have known Kate since she was little,” O’Connell said. “Her mom and my mom taught together at Kehrs Mill Elementary.”
Her prep athletics career is not quite over. She still has soccer this spring. She has played soccer since her freshman year. Then, it’s on to Big Ten competition at Indiana.