Athlete of the Week: Joe Barile ‘22
Under the lights on Clothier Field this past Saturday, the Swarthmore men’s soccer team battled Gettysburg’s team, entering the second half in a 1-1 tie. Fans waited in anxious anticipation as the final minutes of the game approached, letting out nervous cries as the Garnet continuously battered Gettysburg’s goal with unrealized shots. In the 86th minute of the game, however, Joe Barile, a senior from River Vale, NJ, weaved through the defenders, kicking a clean shot on goal that materialized as the game winning goal and his second goal of the game. After taking a gap year, Barile entered the 2021 season as a key player on the men’s soccer team. Again on Clothier Field, Barile and his teammates will face McDaniel College this coming Saturday, October 2.
Anna Suh: What attracted you to Swarthmore’s soccer program?
Joe Barile: Like many athletes, I sent out a flurry of emails to college coaches to see if they’d be interested in recruiting me. One night, only about five minutes after sending a group of ten emails or so, the assistant coach of Swarthmore (at the time) called me. I was so taken aback at the prompt response that I didn’t answer my phone and had to collect myself before speaking to him twenty minutes later. While taking a tour of Swarthmore and spending a night with the team confirmed my decision to come here, that immediate interest is what really set things in motion.
AS: What is your major and why?
JB: I’m a neuroscience major! I love the objective analysis of the natural sciences but also find the human mind to be a fascinating item to study; neuroscience was the perfect fusion of my interests and overlaps considerably with my pre-med requirements.
AS: What motivated you to take a gap year?
JB: Lots of factors contributed to my gap year but one of the main driving forces behind that decision was a desire to play one last season for Swarthmore. I had such an amazing experience with the team through my first three years here but ended the 2019 season on such a bittersweet note, losing at home in front of 1600 fans. I was not ready to close the chapter on my soccer career just yet and wanted one last shot at a Centennial Conference title.
AS: What are your personal and team goals for this season?
JB: From a personal perspective, scoring goals and generating assists are always nice but I really have found myself in the classic “senior” mindset: success for the team is success for myself. If we end this season on top of the Centennial Conference then it won’t matter to me how my personal year goes.
AS: What is your favorite thing to do with the soccer team off the field?
JB: A specific activity I immensely enjoy with my teammates is settling down at a Sharples table with a premier league match playing on someone’s laptop for everyone to see. Some of my fondest memories at Swarthmore are of the meaningless debates I have with my teammates over a meal (would we beat Barcelona if we played them one million times, etc.) and when we add watching an enticing premier league match to the mix, I can’t be happier.
AS: What are your pre- and post-game rituals?
JB: Pre-game, I combine several odd behaviors for my routine: sucking the salt off sunflower seeds to prevent cramps, taping my fingers and wrist, and splashing water over my cleats before I kick a ball for the first time. Our team also has its own pre-game ritual involving all of us listening to the same song together before each match. Post-game, and specifically post-win, the soccer team does our famous “Olés,” in which we rhythmically bang on our chairs and sing about the match.
AS: What has been your favorite moment of the season thus far?
JB: My personal favorite moment of the season so far was my second goal against Gettysburg over the weekend. After deciding to shoot, I didn’t necessarily think I had a great chance of scoring. Watching the ball ricochet and ripple the back of the middle of the net was an indescribable feeling and celebrating afterwards with my teammates was pure euphoria.
AS: What is your favorite memory from your time on the men’s soccer team?
JB: Thus far, our team’s penalty shootout victory at Christopher Newport University has been the peak of my Swarthmore soccer career. The scenes in the locker room after the game will forever live in my memory as one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced from soccer.
AS: Favorite place to study?
JB: A quiet Sci Commons on a weekday morning or a silent McCabe in the evening.
AS: Favorite Sharples bar?
JB: Super unpopular opinion but I really enjoy chicken piccata and roasted potatoes. It happens once in a blue moon but I’m always at Sharples whenever it does.