Q&A With Senior Austin Barr




Oct. 5, 2011

Why did you choose to come to West Point?

I chose to come to West Point for the challenge. I wanted to be tested and was intrigued by the uniqueness of the experience. West Point offered me the opportunity to receive a world class education, serve my country, and play college football at the Division I level. I felt called to serve and it became an opportunity that was too good to turn down. Living in Oregon, it was a long way from home, but it sounded like an excellent adventure. So I jumped into the experience, and I'm happy to say that the last four years have certainly been an adventure.

What does it mean to be an Army football player?

Being an Army Football player has been the greatest honor of my life. It is an attitude. It is the way that you live your life. Army Football never quits. We work to win in everything that we do. No matter what, we "attack," we "swarm." It is a culture I am proud to be a part. An Army Football player strives to be the best and leads from the front. I'm proud to say that we carry this attitude over to our summer assignments and into the Army upon graduation. During our summers at West Point, not only do we work hard for the upcoming football season, but we get after our military training as well. We throw our "hooks" up every step of the way and strive to win the day.

How has playing football at Army changed you?

Army Football has given me a multitude of gifts, it is difficult to even begin to describe the lessons I have learned. I would say the greatest thing that Army Football has given me is mental toughness. West Point in general is outstanding at instilling mental toughness in its students. But on our team, we try to take it to another level. It is an extremely important virtue for us as football players and as men entering the profession of arms. Mental toughness gives you the ability to deal with adversity. It gives you the ability to be calm, relaxed and ready to respond during times of turmoil. How a football player or Army officer responds in critical situations is paramount to the team and the unit's success. We work hard at being as prepared as possible to respond in critical situations.

Describe your fondest memory of Army football.

Currently my fondest memory is our Armed Forces Bowl win over SMU last year. It was just a special game with a special group of guys. Looking back, I can remember just how hard every single member of the team battled the entire game, from the water boys to our starting players. Everyone was engaged and was just playing as hard as they could, holding nothing back and playing to win. I think this year, although we have a large number of newcomers, there are a lot of common elements to the way we played. That is a tribute to our culture and that 2010 senior class. Another reason the bowl game was so special was because I had nearly 25 family members make the trip out for the game. It is always a treat for me to play in front of the people who raised and inspire me.

When did you become a wide receiver and why?

My first year of football was my freshman year at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. I was always a baseball and basketball guy, but thought football would be fun. I think it was just one of those things where I could kind of catch the ball and run around a little bit so they stuck me at wide receiver. If anything, I'm sure since it was my first year of football, the coaches didn't think I could play anything else. Looking back on it, I would have loved to play quarterback. To this day I still have an arm, just ask Trent Steelman - he'll tell you I have the best arm on the team.

What is the mentality of a wide receiver playing in a triple-option offense?

It is certainly a little different than on other teams. We try to make it a fist fight out on the perimeter. If we can line up, play one play at a time and make it a fight with the man across from us, I always like our chances. When we get the opportunity to have a ball thrown our way, that's just icing on the cake. The great thing about our system and our team is we require selfless attitudes. There is no room for egos or selfishness. One of the quotes hanging in our locker room in high school was, "it's amazing what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit." I am so thankful to play a position on a team where this sentiment is truly embraced.

What branch do you want to enter after graduation and why?

I want to be commissioned as an Infantryman. Last summer really helped me decide on branches. I participated in Cadet Leader Development Training out at Camp Buckner, which was a three-week field exercise. I enjoy the outdoors, team building, and focused nature of the Infantry branch. I have always been a go-getter, involved in a thousand activities and enjoyed being in the center of the action. Infantry is appealing because you are the main event, everyone else is there to support you. And as a Platoon Leader, I will have the opportunity to lead a group of professional soldiers on physical and complex missions. For a young man, I do not know what could be more engaging or exciting.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

When I'm not up at the football stadium, I am usually hitting the books. But in my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my teammates, traveling and listening to good house music. The boys of the "News Team" and the "Wrecking Crew" know how to have a good time and unwind. When not playing football, or in the library studying, you can find us getting rowdy in the stands supporting Army Lacrosse and other Army teams.

If you weren't playing football, what other sport would you play?

I was always a big baseball guy growing up. I just eventually got to the point where I became better at football so began to focus on football more. Baseball is a beautiful game, so I could have definitely seen myself continuing to play. Also, I inherited my mother's dominant tennis ability, so am proud to say that I'm a pretty nasty tennis player during family reunions. But my true calling in sports is beach volleyball. Every spring break or summer leave that we have, you can always find Brad Kelly, Justin Schaaf, Andrew Rodriguez and I playing beach volleyball. It is a calling, and I would definitely be interested in continuing to compete once my football career is over.

What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time at West Point?

The most important lesson I have learned has been how to handle adversity. West Point and Army Football have both given me tremendous opportunities to work on handling adversity. What I have learned is that although it is important how you handle the adversity, what is most important is how you respond to that adversity. Because a lot of times during life, everything is out of your control except for your attitude. "Controlling what you can control" has been a priceless lesson.

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