Aug. 23, 2023

Women’s soccer player hopes to lead team to next level

Captain Rachel Barlow looks to continue her academic and athletic excellence while providing leadership to growing team
Rachel Barlow celebrates with teammate Alison Pedersen during a game against Thompson Rivers University.
Rachel Barlow, left, celebrates with teammate Alison Pedersen during a game against Thompson Rivers University. David Moll, for Dinos Athletics

Canada West First Team All-Star. U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian. Multi-time Academic All-Canadian. Rachel Barlow has built quite the trophy case in her time as a Dino.

This year, she’ll add another honour to her distinguished career: team captain. The fifth-year kinesiology student served as part of the team’s leadership group during last year’s campaign and was promoted to captain for the 2023 season. 

“It’s pretty exciting,” says Barlow. “Being named captain, I really want to fulfill that leadership role and be a strong role model for the rest of my team.”

It’s an exciting time for the Dinos women’s soccer team. Barlow says the team surprised themselves last year by making nationals despite having a younger team due to losing a handful of players to graduation. 

“We were a bit of an underdog team last year,” she says. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win any games at nationals last year, so the goal this year will be to get back there and advance further, hopefully all the way to a national title.”

Barlow will be a huge part of that championship push, as she’ll return looking to improve upon the six goals and nation-leading 11 assists she compiled in the 2022 regular season. 

“I don’t think I was close to any records for goals, but I’m going to try and get as many as I can,” she says. 

Rachel Barlow in control of the ball in a game against the University of Victoria.

Rachel Barlow in control of the ball in a game against the University of Victoria.

David Moll

The year-over-year improvement in her game is what makes Barlow most proud. Developing from a rookie to the leadership team and being named an all-star, to now team captain has been tremendously rewarding for her. 

“Every year I’ve wanted to improve and achieve the goal of making a Canada West and U SPORTS all-star team,” she explains.  

Love for soccer circles the globe

Barlow has also brought her love for soccer across the globe, volunteering with an organization called TeamUp Canada over the summer to travel to different towns in Uganda and teach kids soccer. 

Soccer is huge in Uganda; however, there aren’t a lot of programs to bring the sport into schools, so TeamUp Canada aims to implement programs where kids can join teams and play in organized games. 

“I’ve played soccer since I was three, so to be able to travel the world and teach the sport that I love was an incredible experience,” she says. 

She’s done all of this while maintaining a high level of academic achievement. While the travel involved can make keeping up with classes difficult, it can also have its advantages. 

“When you’re on the bus or the plane it gives you plenty of time to review your cue cards,” Barlow says. 

Could she return next season?

This will be Barlow’s final year in kinesiology, but she hasn’t used up all of her athletic eligibility yet, so there’s a chance she could return for one more season. 

“I haven’t decided yet,” she says. “There’s an education program at U of C that I’ve been looking at, so if I were to do that I’d come back for another season.”

Even if this is her final season, Barlow says the experience of being a Dino has been amazing, and it has allowed her to grow both on and off the field.

“Just to have a place to come every day to train and to learn has made me a better person,” she says. 

“The girl I was coming in here at 17 years old is a completely different person to the one who will be leaving here at 22.” 

Barlow and the Dinos women’s soccer team begin their 2023 Canada West campaign on Aug. 26 when they host the University of Manitoba Bisons at Dinosaur Field. Single game and season tickets are on sale now at UCalgary students can access free tickets by using their UCID on ShowPass.

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