girl soccer player

The Drive to Succeed

Grace Barker, Elkhorn Athletic Association 2020 Scholarship Award Recipient

When Grace Barker began playing soccer in kindergarten, the game didn’t come easily at first. “I wasn’t the most coordinated, but I really loved playing! I worked hard each year to improve more and more.” Her father, James Barker, agreed. “That didn’t deter her one bit. She just wanted to compete.”

Her hard work, focus, and grit have paid off. One of the 2020 Elkhorn Athletic Association (EAA) scholarship winners, Barker loved playing soccer with EAA. “Playing for EAA was always so much fun. I was given so many great opportunities to succeed and will always remember all of the different coaches I had there that made me into the player and person I am today.”

She also loved playing soccer with her Elkhorn South High School team for all four years. “What drives me most is my team. I want to be the best player I can, so I can help my team succeed.” After her sophomore season in high school, she was even awarded the most improved player by her coaches and teammates. Elkhorn South soccer coach Lindsay Aliano, said, “Grace is a true competitor that attacks every practice and game with 100% effort.  She treats every player on the team with the same respect, regardless of their role on the team.”

Barker’s family support has meant so much to her. “I am very close with my family. My parents have pushed me my whole life to do my best at everything I do.” Her father believes Grace has been successful because of her own fire and determination. “What stands out to me was her love to play soccer,” he said. “The drive to play was all her, we were just along for the ride.”

That family support was even more important this past year. “Both of my grandfathers passed away due to Alzheimer’s within the same week. It was very hard to lose both of them so close together, but I knew they were in a better place and no longer in pain. Going through this has made me stronger and a better person.”

In addition to soccer, Barker was involved in National Honor Society, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and Circle of Friends at her high school. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends. In the fall, she will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she will study biochemistry with the hope to become a physician assistant or physician. 

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