Q&A with New TKI Trainer Nicole Barnhart

Nicole Barnhart is the newest addition to TKI's staff! We are so excited for her to join team once she finishes up this NWSL with FC Kansas City!  Let's get to know her a bit more as she offers us insight into her life as a professional goalkeeper. 

TKI Quickfire questions:

1. Favorite Book: The Power Of One

2. What do you want to do when you grow up: A few options, still undecided: Coach, Chef, Art Therapist, Graphic Designer/Artist

3.  Favorite Music: Country

4.  Favorite Food: Tough to name one food, because I love food!!! Maybe sushi?

5.  Favorite place you have travelled: Austria

TKI:   Great players have to go through some sort of adversity that bring out the best in them.  What the biggest hurdle that you have had to overcome in your career?

NB: Injuries…Lots of them, and most of them very ill timed.  I’ve partially torn my PCL, torn my ACL,  had 6 knee surgeries and 1 hip surgery, and am currently ACL and PCL deficient with no medial cartilage (all on the same leg).  On top of those, I’ve had shoulder injuries, disc problems in my back, and a serious neck injury.  I was told many years back that they didn’t think my career would last much longer because of the condition of my knee, but I have proven them all wrong.  I’ve put in a lot of hard work to stay fit and strong and to maintain the function of my knee.  And honestly, I feel like I am currently my fittest, strongest, and playing some of my best soccer. 

 TKI: Everyone has their own path to success, what do you think has been the single biggest attribute to having achieved the highest level in the world?

NB: The support of my friends and family over the years, and my unwillingness to listen to people tell me I can’t do something.  I am very stubborn and like to prove people wrongJ  I learned to embrace failure, and believe me, there was a lot of it over the years (EX: When I first tried out for ODP, I made the “B” Team.  EX: I was cut from the WNT at the end of 2006).  I never gave up, and learned that hard work produces success.   I like to think I am one of the hardest working people I know, in whatever it is I am doing.  My dad always told us that if we make the effort to put something in our lives, why not give it 100%?  I think I have taken this attitude/mentality into everything that has been put on my plate. 

TKI: Whats one piece of wisdom that you can impart on young goalkeepers? 

NB:   Your career will be a series of ups and downs.  You will gain the most from what you learn in the downs, but you will also learn a lot by how you carry yourself in the ups.   Remember, soccer is just a game and there are many more important things in life.  However, it is a game that can teach you a lot about life (in both the ups and downs), so don’t pass over those wonderful learning opportunities.

 TKI: Having good positive role models to look up to is so critical these days. Who did you look up to when you were growing up and why? 

NB: I didn’t have a lot of female role models to look up to when I was younger.  However, as I got a little older, I was able to look up to many members of the US Women’s National Team.  I wanted to be them one day, and play to represent my country.  As a matter of fact, I convinced my parents to get cable just before the ’99 World Cup so that I could watch them play in the tournament.  We also had kittens that we named after a few of our favorites – Lily (Lilly), Scurry, Mia.  So, when the opportunity came to be teammates and train/play alongside some of these same players I grew up watching, it was quite an honor.  Looking back now, I’d also say that I look up to my parents.  I really respect the way they raised me and my two siblings.  Although we may not have always agreed with them at the time, they knew what they were doing and raised us to be hardworking, honest, caring, respectable individuals, and I hope to be able to do the same when I have my own children one day.

TKI: You have been all over the world, playing with and against some of the top female players ever, traveling and visiting all kinds of places, but what do you enjoy most about playing professional soccer?

NB: Being a professional soccer player is by far the coolest job in the world.  I get paid to workout, dive around, and play soccer every day.  Who could ask for anything better?  Not many people can say they love their job, but I truly love my job, and am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this each day.   As a professional athlete, I have met some amazing people, formed some lasting friendships, travelled to all parts of the world, and experienced places, cultures, foods, and so much more that I otherwise probably never would have had the chance to see.  On top of all of that, I live a healthy lifestyle, and I owe a lot of that to my job.  I have learned a lot about myself over these many years of playing, and that includes how to best take care of my body - I put healthy foods into my body to get the most out of it in the grueling trainings and games I put it through.  I have been very blessed with this great opportunity and I try to make the most of it each time I step on the field, whether it be for a training or game.  It is not a right but a privilege to be a professional athlete, and I take that to heart.  One of the coolest parts of the job is the interactions with the fans.  There are young boys and girls in the exact same position I was in many years ago, looking up to me now.  I take my responsibility as a role model very seriously, and continue to look forward to the amazing encounters and interactions with all of those people supporting me in what I do. 


A special thank you to Barnie for taking the time to chat with us! With many students who hope to play professional soccer one day, hearing some direct insight from a player of your caliber is great exposer for all of our students! As a family, TKI will be cheering on Barnie as she plays in the NWSL Championship on October 1st at 930PM EST!