Former Juneau-Douglas and current University of Oregon softball player Hannah Barril is embarking on her final season for a Ducks team looking to get back to its winning ways after missing the NCAA tournament last year.
Barril was the Alaska State Gatorade Player of the Year as high school senior and is one of the first Alaskans to play in the Pac 10, but she's not just a softball player. Barril, the 2006 JDHS class valedictorian as a senior, is a top-notch student, and she is pursuing a career as a dietitian after originally thinking about going into physical therapy.
She's currently taking classes like biomechanics, tissue injury and repair, physiology of exercise, human physiology and anatomy, putting extra emphasis on the "student" part of being a Division I student-athlete. Barril also is currently working an internship with the athletic department'snutritionist.
"Basically, I came into the University of Oregon wanting to do something in the health field, and human physiology happened to be one of the majors that offered the type of program I wanted," she said. "It's a very difficult program, especially with our demanding softball schedule. The courses and material asks for a lot of time.
"It is a whole lot of work, and you really have to know how to manage your time and set your priorities," she continued. "Coaches demand a lot of you, so my priorities are school and softball. That's pretty much all you have time for."
The Ducks had two good seasons in Barril's first two years, making it to the region finals of the NCAA tournament. Oregon was 44-19 overall in 2007, and 35-29in '08
"We went my freshman year and we had a pretty stellar season," Barril said. "We were ranked in the Top 25 and broke quite a bit of Oregon records. We had an 18-game winning streak and ended up in South Carolina, where we went undefeated in the tournament until the last two games.
"My sophomore year, we went to Oklahoma and the same thing happened," she continued. "We had a pretty good season and lost in the (region) finals again."
Oregon is now looking to rebound from a 16-34 season, but Barril is confident the team can return to form. The Ducks' season opens in a tournament in Arizona today with games against Notre Dame and Creighton.
"We're a well-rounded team. We're definitely better than last year," she said. "I think our pitchers will do well enough and our defense can back them up. And our offense will be great enough to help out our defense."
Barril wants to cap off her career with a run past the region finals.
"That's one of our biggest goals is to make it back to the postseason, and hopefully go beyond regionals," she said. "Oregon softball is kind of notorious for not being able to progress after regionals, so we're hoping that's something we can do this year.
"We just want to be a consistent team, and contenders in the Pac 10. This is one of the best conferences in the nation."
But Barril, who is second among seniors with 105 games played over her career, is learning a new position after moving to the outfield.
"It can be a little uncomfortable, but you have to just go with it, through the adversity and just do the best that you can," she said. "It's definitely a learning experience and you couldn't ask for anything more. I've never played outfield before I came here, but I like it, actually. It's pretty laid back and not as stressful as the infield.
"But that's my role; I'm put where I'm needed and I help out the team whenever I can and wherever I can."
Barril's also needed in other areas, according to her coach, Mike White.
"She's done a lot of volunteer work in the community and she organizes the girls to do things year in and year out," he said. "She's also working with the team on a nutrition plan, which is going to be a big help. She finds out where the best places are for us to eat on the road and does calorie counting to make sure we're not putting bad things into our bodies.
"Hannah's one of our most inspirational players, both on the field and off the field."
Which means she's more than just a softball player.