July 20 — VERDIGRIS — Abagayle Barnes is a compulsive worker.
Those who see the senior on the volleyball or soccer field witness the fruits of her labor first-hand, but they don’t see the constant behind-the-scenes habits that have helped shape her into the competitor she is. today.
She has a seemingly irresistible urge to work and improve, and her ability to juggle two jobs, two sports, and her studies is testament to that.
While many might recognize Barnes as a four-year-old starter and staple libero for Verdigris volleyball, most people probably don’t know that she’s also a movie dud.
“She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had,” Lady Cardinals coach Caleb Horton said. “She’s signed to go play football at NSU, so I’m thrilled to have her for one more season. She’s actually watching a movie and sending me clips and asking, ‘What the hell is that? are we doing here? This kid goes out and does some research and comes back to tell me about it.”
During preseason, Barnes spends about an hour a day going through old footage. Once the season begins, she can be found dissecting a film for up to six hours.
Talk about dedication. No wonder she is considered one of the best passers and defenders on the team.
“It’s just about looking for what we did wrong last year and trying not to get it this year,” Barnes said. “That the block doesn’t close or that we put it in the wrong place.”
This habit started at the start of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. With no football season to occupy her time, she and teammate Logan Hamilton watched Stanford volleyball games.
Barnes paid particular attention to libero Morgan Hentz while Hamilton watched outside hitter Kathryn Plummer. Hentz and Plummer helped turn the Cardinal into a volleyball powerhouse, winning national titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
“I just started loving and appreciating,” Barnes said of her film studies. “Then when we lost I’d be checked off and watch it to find out who screwed up and what went wrong.”
For her, that’s what it takes to be an effective libero.
“That excitement and adrenaline from year one has carried over and makes me work so much harder to hold onto that position and play hard,” Barnes said. “It looks like more responsibility.”
Although Barnes, who is a team captain, holds her teammates accountable for their mistakes, she isn’t shy about criticizing her own shortcomings.
In fact, she openly admits to dropping the season-ending point in both her first and second seasons.
Horton said reality still burns in Barnes to this day, a statement she flatly denies.
“You still need to get 25 points before that,” Barnes said.
Barnes is set to continue her football career at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah after graduation, but before she says goodbye to competitive volleyball, she wants to win a state championship.
However, she said there are things she and her teammates need to work on to achieve that goal.
It all starts with an attitude adjustment.
“For me, it’s just about attitude and believing we can and pushing to get to this point,” Barnes said. “Team-wise I want to win, but I want to win it as a team and for everyone to contribute. We are always working to get the difficult attitudes and cut here and there and not realize that everyone has some of the things they are good at and not good at, so we have to help each other as a team instead of playing individually.”