Chaminade soccer star puts focus on his team

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@archstl.org

When Tommy Barlow talks soccer, he could easily bring up his personal accomplishments. He netted the ball 27 times last season and assisted his teammates with 17 goals. He was a leader of the Chaminade soccer team that advanced to the Class 3 state championship game. He was named Gatorade Missouri Boys Soccer Player of the Year, was an All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and chosen as the Missouri Soccer Coaches Association Class 3 Player of the Year.

But Barlow takes the humble route, instead focusing on the team and playing with his friends. He chose to stick with his friends at Chaminade, passing an opportunity to play in U.S. Soccer's Academy program, which seeks many of the top-tier players.

A year ago Academy soccer adopted a 10-month schedule from September through July, which forced many high schoolers to choose between prep soccer and Academy soccer. The Academy system, which began in 2007 as a boys' soccer partnership between U.S. Soccer and the country's top youth clubs for developing the nation's elite players, includes 78 teams from across the country. Four teams participate in Missouri.

Barlow and some of his teammates chose to play for their school because "we love playing for Chaminade, and that's why we chose it. We had a pretty good team coming back and thought we had a shot at doing something great, like winning state," Barlow said.

Chaminade reached the finals in Class 3 before losing the championship game to CBC 2-0. Chaminade ended the year with a 25-3-2 record.

Barlow cited the advantages of going to school at Chaminade, where he is a junior. "It's very family oriented. You know everyone. The teachers are awesome and kids are great. It's fun, but it's tough and challenging."

He takes his education seriously and has maintained a B average. He has volunteered as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit cancer research, a neighborhood beautification project and at a soup kitchen.

He and his mom, two brothers and sister are members of Ascension Parish in Chesterfield. Barlow's father died when he was in eighth grade. It was a tough time, going into high school and taking on responsibilities, but he's had people to lean on for advice, including his grandfather, Charlie Reed, and his counselor at Chaminade, Tim Sartori, who helped him with tasks such as his class schedule and college preparation.

Soccer has been part of Barlow's life for a long time, since about age 4 when he started playing at Tony Glavin's program in St. Charles. At age 9 he tried out for a Scott Gallagher team and made it.

Barlow played other sports as as well, including baseball, swimming and basketball, where his grandfather was his coach until eighth grade. He even played basketball as a freshman at Chaminade, on the junior varsity team.

Analyzing this past soccer season, he noted that Chaminade struggled a little in the middle of the year, but the coaches talked to the players about how to get to the state finals. "We had to take one game at a time," Barlow said. "We came together at the end. We just came up a little short."

Barlow said his coaches have been good influences on him, starting with Glavin, a former professional soccer player and, as Barlow described him, "the nicest guy going." He's been close to his coaches at Gallagher as well, including Aquinas High School grad and former pro player Kevin Kalish, and has learned much from his Chaminade coaches as well.

The Gatorade Player of the Year award is given in conjunction with USA Today. It recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.

Sartori noted that Barlow lives up to those ideals. "First and foremost, Tommy is a very gifted soccer player. Around the school building, he is as good a person off the field as well. He has a very good rapport with all the teachers, and he's very well liked by all his classmates. He is maturing very much and is becoming the total package," Sartori said.

Three other Chaminade players have received the Gatorade soccer honor. They are Mike Roach (2006-07), Tim Collico (2001-02) and Brad Davis (1999-2000). Gatorade recognizes one player in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in several sports.

Barlow said that he was surprised by the nomination and win and is honored to be among the players from Chaminade who have won it. "They're extremely talented. It's a blessing to be a part of that," he said.

Chaminade College Preparatory School was founded in 1910 by the Society of Mary. Located in Creve Coeur, it is a Catholic day and resident school for boys grades 6-12, sponsored by the Marianist Province of the United States.

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