For most 18 year-old high school recruits, making the decision to attend school over 1,000 miles away from home can be extremely difficult. But for Florida lacrosse midfielder Nora Barry, it was easy.
“Florida was my first visit,” said Barry. “And ultimately none of the other visits really compared.”
Barry, now entering her junior season, grew up just 15 miles outside of Syracuse in Marcellus, New York. She starred at Marcellus High School, racking up 261 career goals on her way to being named a two-time US Lacrosse All-American. By her senior year, Barry was being heavily recruited by nearly every major lacrosse program in the country.
“I considered a lot of schools and my parents were really nice and helpful in taking me around the country to see what school was the best fit for me,” said Barry. “I think with Florida it was just the coaches and the fact that the school put so much into their sports programs. This facility had just been built, and at that time it was the only facility in the country built just for women’s lacrosse. So I could tell right off the bat this was going to be a good program.”
Barry became in an instant contributor the moment she stepped on campus, starting all 22 games at midfield her freshman year. She was named the American Lacrosse Conference’s Rookie of the Year after a season in which she tallied 40 goals and set a new UF school record for ground balls with 48.
Barry’s success continued into her sophomore season, scoring 26 goals and playing a key role in the Gators’ third straight regular season conference title.
Florida lost twelve seniors off that team, however, leaving the Gators with only six upperclassmen on the roster heading into this season. Barry said it will be tough to replace those seniors, but she is doing her best this off-season to take more of a leadership role.
“Just knowing that there are only six of us and almost 30 underclassmen, I think we’re all trying hard to set a good example,” said Barry.
While she’s focused on becoming more of a leader off the field, Barry has worked on her versatility on the field this as well.
“I’m trying to improve on being more versatile offensively,” said Barry. “I want to be able to shoot from anywhere, not just dodging from up top and taking shots from the typical midfield position. Defensively, I’m just trying to play stronger and work on keeping people out.”
Barry’s goal for the team this year is to capture the program’s first ever national championship. And while she’s pegged by many as one of the top midfielders in the conference heading into this season, her individual goals this year have nothing to do with scoring goals or setting records.
“I just want to be the best leader I can on the field, and set a good example off of it,” she said.
The Gators hope the younger players will follow Barry’s example as they continue to prepare for their upcoming season. Florida will begin their 2014 campaign on February 14 against the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.