It's really not a surprise that Ashley Barker wants to become a doctor one day.
What you hear most about Ashley is how many times she has put others above herself - all the way back to second grade, when she was one of the top fund-raisers in a relay for Relay for Life. The following year, she had her friends bring donations for the Humane Society to her birthday party instead of gifts for herself. When a local family lost everything in a fire, she gave a young girl from that home all of her Polly Pockets.
"She has a huge heart and loves to do things for others," said her mother, Marci. "She does it all with humility. I am most proud of her ability to stay true to herself. I think that is harder (in today's world). Their lives are on public display at all times with the amount of social media they have. She doesn't get caught up in the drama. She focuses on what she can do to better herself. She is true to herself, yet she is one of the most giving and compassionate people I know. She truly cares about everyone and everything, whether it is her closest friend or someone she barely knows; she truly cares about them and their feelings."
Sounds like a great volleyball teammate.
"She pushes her teammates to work hard and be the best they can be," said her teammate, Bailey Dilks.
Sounds like a great choice to be Warren's setter, a position that gets others involved.
"...Nothing feels better than one of my hitters exucuting the perfect play," said Ashley.
A little "Q & A" with Ashley Barker:
Q: Who are your parents, siblings, and what sports do you play?
A: My parents are Marci and Ryan Barker, and I have a younger brother Adam. I play volleyball and run track.
Q: What is your favorite sport and why?
A: It is really hard to pick which sport is my favorite. I love both of them for different reasons, but track probably has to be my favorite. Track is a individual sport, and I don't have to worry about anyone else other than myself. I play so much volleyball and being a setter I have to pay attention to everyone at all times. Track gives me a break and I finally just get to focus on myself. Also with track, all the times and distances are black and white. The best go to invitationals and there isn't any politics with track.
Q: Tell me about a sport you tried early on but just didn't quite like it, and why.
A: Since I was little, my parents taught me once you start something you have to finish it. My parents still stick to that today, but there was one exception when I was little. When I was little I went to one dance class, and I absolutely hated it. I found it boring, and that was the one and only time my parents let me quit anything.
Q: I understand you are very driven. Where do you think you get that from? And give me an example in sports and outside of sports where that drive has benefited you.
A: I definitely got that quality from my mom. When she puts her mind to something she doesn't stop until she has reached her goal. That quality has especially helped me get through sports. The past year I was personally selected to play on an elite club volleyball team out of Erie, Pennsylvania. This team traveled to huge tournaments and some national qualifiers over the past year. I earned that spot on the team, because I have worked so hard to get where I am today. I never settled for anything less that great, because of that I have been able to make select teams and I also made the varsity volleyball team four years in a row. Being driven has helped me outside of sports, too. If I wasn't driven I would have never been able to maintain the grades I have had over my high school career.
Q: What are your goals for the upcoming volleyball season, and school year?
A: One goal for this upcoming volleyball season is to qualify for playoffs. Over the last three years I had the opportunity to play with same group of girls, and we never were able to earn a spot in playoffs. It would be amazing to make playoffs this year with a brand new group of girls. A goal I have over the the school year is to do well in my classes and get accepted into college.
Q: What are your plans for after high school? Have you decided on a college? Are you at all narrowing down a career? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: My plans for after high school are to attend college somewhere. I have narrowed it down to three colleges, and I hope to get accepted into any one of them. I do want to go on to med school to become a doctor after undergraduate school. In 10 years I will be in my residency as a doctor, and hopefully working in a large hospital.
Q: If that's too much of a rush... where do you see yourself in three months?
A: Hopefully, in three months I am accepted into college, and getting good grades in my senior year of high school.
Q: Who is your inspiration and why?
A: My inspiration is my Grandma Rita. She is the sweetest person I know. My grandma has always been someone who puts others before herself. She is a care taker and does so much for hospice. If I could be anything like my Grandma Rita I would be lucky.She by far is the most compassionate person I have ever met. She makes me want to be a better person. Another thing I have learned from my grandma is sometimes you have to put others before yourself.
Q: Would you consider yourself a smalltown girl that likes the rural area, or are you itching to branch out to a big city environment? And why?
A: I am I little bit of both. I love going kayaking and being outside, but I do also enjoy exploring to new places. When I do get older I do plan on moving to a larger city than Warren.
Q: List three words that you would use to best describe yourself.
A: Driven, respectful, and responsible
Q: If an outsider asked you to best explain your position in volleyball, how would you describe to them your day to day practices and mindset?
A: My position on the volleyball team is a setter. As a setter practice is probably the most important thing. I have to build a good relationship with my hitters. Without that relationship the team would never be able to run any plays. I have to have quick reactions to chase any ball down to make a play. The hardest thing about being a setter is the mindset. I have to know where everyone is on the court. I also have to be very strategic, and know which play would be most effective against the other team. My position is one of the hardest positions on the volleyball court, but nothing feels better than one of my hitters exucuting the perfect play.
Q: Tell me one question I forgot to ask, and then answer it.
A: One question you forgot to ask me was what do I do in my free time. To be honest I don't have a lot of free time, but when I do I enjoy spending time with my friends and also with my boyfriend Aaron. Another thing I enjoy doing is spending time with my two dogs Ellie and Lacy.