May 6, 2015
By Sean McMinimee `18
After a few minutes with Jade Barber, one thing becomes clear: she loves her sport.
“I love track,” the senior hurdler says. “It’s my favorite thing to do. Period.”
As one can imagine, the sport has been a huge part of the All-American’s life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Barber’s last season with the University of Notre Dame track & field program is underway, the final chapter in her story full of All-American honors and conference championships, and she has new goals and aspirations. Ask her about these goals and aspirations and you get a surprisingly concise answer.
“I really want to break 12.8 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles,” Barber says, “and I really would like our 4×100 relay team to break the school record. These are my goals for myself moving forward.”
Barber, a native of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, came to Notre Dame as a decorated high school athlete and has seen a steady rise throughout her Notre Dame career. As a freshman, she received All-BIG EAST accolades after a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles, and by her sophomore season she was breaking school records in the 60-meter and 100-meter hurdles and the 4×400-meter indoor relay, while also totaling four All-American citations and winning three BIG EAST championships.
These honors only increased as Barber helped lead the Irish to a second-place finish at the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Championships in 2014, after which she was then named the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. Barber is the definition of a decorated athlete, but by no means is she content with what she’s already achieved.
Now toward the end of the outdoor season, Barber already looks to be back in her best form. In the season’s first meet at the Texas Relays, she broke the school’s record in the 100-meter hurdles, a record she had set before and that she has been chasing her whole career at Notre Dame. Needless to say, Barber was ecstatic.
“I was really excited to break that school record,” Barber says. “I hadn’t run that time in over two years, and I was beginning to question if I was ever going to be that fast again in my life. It meant that I wasn’t going to be just as fast, but I was going to actually be faster.”
That school record mark is still tops in the ACC by nearly four-tenths of a second, while it rates fourth in the nation. She has raced the event four times since and won three of those races.
Perhaps even more impressive than the record-setting performances Barber is having is the progress that she’s made in the last few months alone. Since coming off of an indoor season she described as her “second-worst season” since coming to Notre Dame, Barber’s performance has been nothing short of exceptional. She believes the struggles she had this indoor season played an integral role in the success she has been having during the outdoor season.
“If I had ran better in the indoor season, I don’t think I would have come out and ran a personal record right away,” Barber says.
According to Barber, she owes this turnaround to first-year head coach Alan Turner.
“Coach Turner helped turn my season around in a ton of different ways,” Barber says, “and I really owe my success in the second half of the season to him. He really pushed me after the rough indoor season I had, and for that I’m grateful.”
There is nothing but praise for the new head coach, who is not a complete stranger to Barber. The two have bonded the last three years since Turner served previously as the hurdles coach.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Turner,” she says. “I trust his ability and know he is leading both me and the team in the right direction.”
Turner has nothing but positive things to say about Barber, praising her efforts as a teammate and a captain this year.
“Jade’s a first-year captain, but she’s always been a lead-by-example individual,” he says. “This year I needed her to be more of a verbal leader, and she has really stepped up to the plate, helping the underclassmen, more specifically the freshmen runners, learn the ropes. She’s been great to the freshmen, and it’s been great to see her growth.”
Turner also praises Barber’s work ethic, citing the success she has been having this year as a byproduct of the work.
Despite the success Barber has enjoyed, she’s not too focused on the legacy she’ll be leaving behind. She instead remains focused on her time running and making those close to her proud.
“I’m not really worried about leaving a legacy,” Barber says. “I just want to be a good person. If I happen to do well in the sport, then good, but if people are going to remember me for anything I want it to be for being a good person. At the end of the day I want my family, my coaches and my teammates to be proud of me and that’s all that’s important.”
Barber has some time to think about her plans after her Notre Dame career is over. This summer she will once again be competing in the World University Games — an event in which she competed following her sophomore season — in Seoul, South Korea. Following the games, Barber’s love for track is her motivating factor yet again.
“My plans are to try and find someone to sponsor me so I can keep running for a few years and avoid having to find a real job,” Barber says.
For now, Barber can remain focused on what she loves to do most: run.