In the second installment of talking with the Seattle Reign FC players that were there in 2013 and are back for the 2017 season, I had a chat with defender Lauren Barnes at their season kickoff party a couple of weeks ago about her journey that started with a phone call with a lot of numbers.
"I got a random phone call with a lot of numbers on it because it was international - oh this is strange, sure I'll pick it up and it was Laura."
This is how Lauren Barnes remembers the start of her NWSL career. When Laura Harvey called her and asked if she'd like to play for Seattle, there was no hesitation by Barnes. She spent 2012 as an assistant coach at UC Riverside and wanted to stay on the West Coast to remain close to friends and family. She said that phone call with Harvey was straight to the point and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
"We respected her as a coach, she brought something that I've actually never seen from a coach, playing all my life. I think because of that we instantly loved her and respected her and were like, 'Whatever you want us to do, we're going to do it full-heartedly."
Of course that Reign FC history had a rocky start. Everyone knows how that inaugural season went for Seattle, but Barnes saw what Harvey was wanting to build in Seattle and bought into the process. Sure the losing streak in 2013 wasn’t what anyone wanted, but Barnes understood the bigger picture.
"Absolutely not. She's definitely put me on the map. Bringing me in and letting me play the way I want to play. I started as left back and moved to left center-back so I've been in a few positions on the back line but she's always trusted me and always having that confidence. You don't need much more."
Much like goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer's journey, there is no hesitation in Barnes to say that her career would not be where it is if she didn't have a coach like Laura Harvey. There was some pop to Barnes' voice when she talked about how Laura would invest in you as much as you invest in her teachings. It's that trust that the player and coach have with each other that is championed by just about every player that's put on a Reign FC shirt. A common theme with all of the Reign FC Originals is they put their trust in Laura Harvey and look at the growth each of them have. Put your trust in Laura Harvey's philosophy, do the work at training and see what your career can become - take Lauren Barnes for example.
During the Q&A portion of the season kickoff party, Harvey joked that the co-captaincy will operate under the system of, "Jess will yell at them, Lu will be nice to them" to laughter from the attendance. However do not misinterpret the sincerity of Lauren Barnes as she is a pushover.
"Probably 99 percent of the time, yes but I'm also a competitor and I want to win. So if I need something out of some players, I will definitely tell them."
The full interview with Lauren Barnes is below. Whenever a defender is in the headlines, usually it's because they were on the business end of something flashy and it gets hammered to death that it happened. The very good ones don't let it get to them. They learn from their mistakes and keep on working to get better for the next match and when they succeed, it usually comes with very little fanfare. When the Seattle Reign FC set a new standard in the NWSL in 2014 & 2015, a lot of fanfare was naturally made about the sledgehammer offense for those two seasons. Equally dangerous was how consistent the defense was, specifically the backline. Lauren Barnes has been part of the backline from the beginning and she's done so without demanding any fanfare. Even after being awarded NWSL Defender of the Year last year, Barnes remains the quiet leader, anchor and architect of the backline.
You do the work at training so you can be better than the player opposite you on Saturdays without a second agenda of capturing the spotlight or the headlines, but because you know you can. You do the work so you can set an example to your teammates. You do the work because you want to show them you can be counted as a leader. Most of all, you do the work because you want to win.
You are Lauren Barnes, a Reign FC Original.