Jersey numbers can reveal a lot about an athlete.
Pairing goose-eggs is as much a statement as it is a mission for Franklin Community soccer player Austin Barnard.
“It just kind of happened,” said Barnard, the Grizzly Cubs’ goalkeeper — and No. 00 in game programs — who extends his 6-foot-3 frame vertically and horizontally in an effort to keep opposing soccer teams from scoring.
“I just thought it would be a good number and would stand out.”
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Barnard is vital to his team’s success this season as the program looks to improve upon last year’s 9-6-1 record.
He first broke into Franklin’s varsity lineup as a sophomore, splitting time in goal with senior teammate Spencer Sullivan. As a junior, Barnard snuffed out a total of 119 would-be goals; overall, he surrendered 29 goals in 1,165 minutes of field time.
Franklin held the opponent scoreless in three of its victories.
“To me it’s one of the hardest positions on the field. It’s not easy at all,” Barnard said. “A lot of people think it is, but it’s not. It’s challenging. There’s a lot more to it than just stopping the ball.
“The game has become so much more dynamic than it used to be. Now the goalkeepers are more involved. The hardest part of goalkeeping to me is communicating with your team and making sure you’re all on the same page.”
The Grizzly Cubs open the regular season Aug. 16 when they host Speedway.
Every match Franklin plays this season is an opportunity for Barnard to demonstrate how he has evolved as his team’s last line of defense.
“Austin is a surprisingly good athlete. Side to side he’s pretty quick. He does a great job in the weightroom, which helps him out,” Franklin coach Tony Harris said. “He’s become a much better leader and much harder worker. Austin takes it more seriously.
“He works on his craft, and has done a pretty good job with it. Austin has grown during his four years here, and we’re hoping he’s ready to take that next step.”
Harris knows he could put Barnard anywhere on the field during a match and receive positive contributions in return.
However, with proven goal-scoring commodities such as senior Sam Vanderveen, junior Joe Nerding and sophomore Owen Atkison leading the offense (a combined 34 goals scored last season), Barnard’s athleticism and keen soccer instincts best serve the program on defense.
Barnard’s younger sister by a few minutes, Allison – they along with sister, Audrey, are triplets – is the starting goalkeeper for the Grizzly Cubs’ girls soccer program.
Allison also wears No. 00. She permitted 27 goals a year ago in 1,334 minutes of playing time.
Austin began playing soccer as a 5-year-old. A few years later a coach rotated Barnard into a match at goalkeeper, and he’s been there ever since.
Barnard likes the fact there are two starting Grizzly Cubs goalkeepers under the same roof.
“Allison hasn’t been playing soccer as long as I have, but she always asks for help,” Barnard said. “We do goal kicks and punts together. Just whenever we’re available because we both work and are busy all the time.”
THE BARNARD FILE
Name: Austin Barnard
Family: Parents, Kevin and Sharon; sisters, Alicia, 20, Audrey, 17, and Allison, 17
Favorite TV show: “The Office”
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite movie: “The Fast and the Furious”
Favorite athlete: Tim Howard
Favorite team: Manchester United