Everyone competes in their life, whether it’s in the workplace, school or in sports, but not everyone gets a chance to compete and represent their town, state and country in their respected sport half way across the world - but that's just what one local high school student will have the opportunity to do this summer.
Cassidy Barfield, a freshman at Gordon High School, was selected to take part in the Down Under Sports program, which believes that the common language of sports can bridge the continents and provide a forum for athletes from around the globe to compete in the sport they love.
“I found out that I could take part when I received a letter that was sent to my school mentioning the cross country in Australia,” Barfield said. “I already had a friend who had gone last year and I decided that I wanted to take part in the trip and travel around the world. I knew if I didn’t take this opportunity this year, I may never get offered this amazing chance again.”
Barfield said the opportunity is something she’s looking forward to.
“My excitement in words is just 'wow.' A person from such a small town getting invited to travel across the world to participate in this program is just amazing,” she said. “I’m really excited just to meet new people and have fun.”
The program doesn’t just invite anyone, it searches for those who have made themselves elite in their craft and Barfield fits that mold. She was the district champ this year in cross country and claimed the regional title which qualified her for the state cross country meet. She also qualified for the state track meet where she placed third in the 3200-meter run.
“One of the reasons I wanted to take part in this is so I can achieve that sense of accomplishment that I have actually improved with help from their professional coaches,” said Barfield. “My goal is to come back a better athlete than I was before I left.”
The mission of getting athletes from across the world to compete against one another that Down Under Sports has is also something that Barfield says hits home with her.
“I think it’s really important to keep all the sports diverse in every country so different athletes from different countries get that chance to experience and see what other sports are like in their respective countries,” she said. “It breeds more competition throughout and that’s a good thing.”
With every success story, there’s the people behind the scenes that make it all possible. The case with Barfield’s long distance running success is no different and she says that multiple people have helped her get where she is today.
“I really have to credit my track coaches, Coach Holland and Coach Kositha and Coach Tomlin,” she said. “They are the most inspiring people when you try your hardest. They are always the loudest people in the crowd cheering you on and telling you how to improve. I wouldn’t have made it nearly as far as I have without their support.”
While Barfield will be in Australia to compete and better herself in long distance running it won’t be all work and no play.
“I’m really wanting to get to the beach and learn how to surf because I have never been surfing before and doing it in Australia would be amazing,” she said. “I’m also excited about seeing the zoo because they let you hold a Koala bear.”
Of course, there’s also a few things she isn’t looking forward to.
“The thing I’m probably most dreading is probably the race, even if it is supposed to be an exhibition,” she said. “The pressure gets to me before every race I do and I kind of freak out and get nervous. Oh, and the plane ride. I’m really not looking forward to that.”
Barfield will embark on her journey later this summer and to take part she is also accepting donations to help get her there.
If you’re interested in helping Barfield take part in this event, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.