Former Spanish Springs soccer standout transferring to Nevada after two years at junior college in Washington
She had to travel to the extreme Northwest of the continental United States to realize she wanted to come home.
Well, kind of.
Audrey Barham had illusions of playing Division I soccer at Nevada even before graduating from Spanish Springs in 2015 as a three-time first-team all-league selection. It wasn’t to be.
So Barham opted to continue her playing career at Peninsula College – a junior college powerhouse located in Port Angeles, Wash., a one-hour ferry ride from Victoria, Canada.
On the Feb. 1 signing day, Barham inked papers officially announcing her transfer to Nevada.
— PC Women’s Soccer (@PCWomensSoccer) February 3, 2017
“I wanted to go to Nevada before I came here, but didn’t pursue it,” said Barham, who will finish at Peninsula this spring. “Then with the coaching change, I started emailing them.”
For the final two years of her eligibility, Barham will play for new head coach Erin Otagaki, who was promoted in December after spending the last two years as Nevada’s assistant.
Otagaki also recruited Barham’s Peninsula teammate, roommate and former high-school rival, Kennady Whitehead, a 2014 Reed grad.
“Local talent is important. They have connections to the local soccer community. I’m thrilled to have two local kids coming home,” said Otagaki at a signing day press conference.
Barham chose Nevada over myriad other programs including California Baptist, California State – East Bay, Colorado State – Pueblo, Montana State – Billings (where her sister, Amanda, plays softball), San Francisco State, Sierra Nevada College and “other smaller schools in the east and Midwest.”
She made the decision when she took a visit in December while home for the holiday break.
“I went on the visit and committed like right away,” she said. “I just felt like it was a really good fit for me.”
Barham leaves a Peninsula program that went 19-1-1 this fall and won the Northwest Athletic Conference title. The NWAC consists of 29 junior college programs from Oregon and Washington.
Not only did she have to adjust to a new setting and level of play for the Pirates. She also had to become familiar with a new position.
She was twice voted Spanish Springs’ offensive player of the year and was often the most physical player on the field. She parlayed that physicality into a starting spot on the defensive back line at Peninsula and was named an NWAC all-star defender as a sophomore.
“I absolutely love it. I’m really thankful for that,” Barham said of her position switch. “I love defending. And I love getting up in the attack, so it’s the perfect position for me.”
Peninsula coach Kanyon Anderson had awfully high praise Barham and her ability to quickly adjust to the new position.
“One day, in the spring of her freshman year, we tried her at outside back and it was immediately obvious that was the position she was born to play,” he said. “She works abnormally hard every day, she always competes, and she is good to her teammates off the field. We have been blessed to have many great outside backs at Peninsula, but we’ve surely never had anyone better than Audrey.”
The Spanish Springs grad joins a Nevada team that went 5-13 last year, 2-9 in Mountain West play. After going 39-3-1 in her two seasons at Peninsula, she’s not worrying about wins and losses yet.
She’s simply eager to come home.
Said Barham: “I’m just excited to be on the team.”