Ashley Barron never thought what she does as being anything special. The recently graduated Hoboken High School standout scholar/athlete just went about her business, day after day, all year round.
“It was never a big deal,” Barron said. “Every time a new season came along, I concentrated on that sport. It was just what I did. I went to school, studied hard, and played sports. But if I didn’t play sports, I don’t know what I would have done. It was just something I felt that I had to do.”
However, there’s no question that Barron was something special. In the fall, she stood tall in the nets as the goalkeeper for the Hoboken girls’ soccer team, even though the Red Wings weren’t very successful.
In the winter months, Barron played basketball and averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, as the Red Wings once again struggled to gain victories.
“Even though we didn’t win much, I was happy if we worked hard,” Barron said. “For me, I was doing it for the team. I just got my adrenaline flowing and kept working, despite the losing.”
In the spring, Barron was a key member of the Red Wings’ successful softball program. Last spring, Barron made the seemingly easy transition from being a shortstop, where she earned Hudson Reporter All-Area honors as a junior, to catcher.
The Red Wings needed a top-flight backstop, since former All-Area standout Paige Peguero had graduated. But veteran coach Carmine Ronga truly believed Barron could do the job.
“She first went from a pitcher to a shortstop, then we converted her into a catcher,” Ronga said of Barron. “I knew because of her athletic ability and her intelligence. She had a pitcher’s brain inside a catcher’s body. She had the knowledge of the game and she was willing to do it. That was a big factor.”
“I was a catcher when I first started playing softball when I was little,” Barron said. “I think I stopped being a catcher when I was about 10. I remember when Coach [Ronga] came and asked me if I could catch. I didn’t hesitate. It just felt right.”
Barron had another sensational softball season for the Red Wings, this time behind the dish. She batted .491 with five homers and 27 RBI and struck out only three times all season. She handled the responsibilities of being a catcher without missing a beat, like she had been there her entire softball life.
“She just put it all together and made the transition look very easy,” Ronga said. “Her work ethic is incredible. She just wanted to do it and wanted to be good at it.”
“I really didn’t have a problem with it,” Barron said. “Calling pitches is something I had to learn. Framing the pitches came naturally. I knew that there was a lot more responsibility being a catcher, but I liked that. I just gradually got better and better at it.”
Soccer goalkeeper, basketball leading scorer and softball standout – sure, that’s nothing special.
When you also figure into the equation that Barron was the salutatorian for the Hoboken Class of 2010, finishing second in her class with a 4.07 grade point average, you can see that Barron is even more special.
For her efforts, Barron has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year for the scholastic school year 2009-2010.
The award is given to the top female athlete in the county who participates in more than one varsity sport. Barron is the first female from Hoboken to receive the award. There have been five previous male athletes to receive the honor, but no prior Hoboken girls. The Hudson Reporter has been presenting awards to the top athletes in the county since 1992 (just one person per year, whether male or female) and began presenting both a Male and Female Athlete of the Year award in 2004.
“This just came out of nowhere,” Barron said about receiving the award. “When [Hoboken athletic director Mauro DeGennaro] told me that I was getting the award, I thought he was joking. I really didn’t think it was possible. It’s a huge honor and I want to be able to tell everyone.”
If there’s one quality about Barron that became evident after speaking with her coaches, it was the way she went about her business as both an athlete and as a student.
“She’s the total package of what you want a student/athlete to be,” said Hoboken girls’ basketball coach Ryan Sorafine. “She did everything you wanted from her and did so with determination and drive. I never coached anyone who wanted it more and leads more than Ashley. She played everywhere for me in basketball, anywhere I needed her. She played forward and played tough, but if I needed someone to handle the ball, she did that as well. She always played tough. She could do a little bit of everything.”
Barron was such a gritty basketball player than she suffered a concussion after hitting her head on the floor during a game, picking up an offensive foul charge. It showed how much she was willing to give of herself for the good of the team.
“Her hard work, athleticism and dedication are very hard to find,” Sorafine said. “She has the love of sports and the love of competition. That’s what makes her the person she is and the athlete she is. At a Group I school like we are, you need someone who is dedicated like that and can play all three sports. And all three sports helped her develop. I believe being a soccer player helped her become a better basketball player and basketball helped her in softball.”
Sorafine was an assistant coach in softball prior to this season, so he had a good working relationship with Barron.
“We worked together quite a lot,” Sorafine said.
Ronga called Barron “a well-rounded athlete.”
“You can see what Ashley is made of,” Ronga said. “She puts her whole heart and soul into everything she does. Whether it’s on the field or academically, Ashley is giving her all. Everything she does, she’s very competitive. The kid had a plan to do what she wanted to do in high school and she did it. She’s just naturally competitive. She will try to beat you in ping pong if she had a chance. She’s also a natural leader and led by example. Her parents deserve a lot of credit.”
Barron was asked how hard it was to juggle sports and academics.
“It was very hard, but I never let it get to me,” Barron said. “When I was on the field, I tried not to think about schoolwork much. It was like a release for me.”
Barron is headed to Penn State-Hazelton to study sports management and will play softball there.
“I guess this was a reward for all my hard work,” Barron said. “Obviously, if you work hard enough, then people will recognize you for your effort. This is proof and it gives other Hoboken girls something to look forward to.”
In that respect, then Ashley Barron is truly a trailblazer.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.