Siloam Springs, Ark. (August 25, 2002) - For the first time in Bob Gustavson’s coaching history, he is coaching a second-generation soccer player within the same family.
Paul Barker, sophomore midfielder on the team, is playing on the JBU Golden Eagles soccer team this year, just as his father Jeff Barker did in the early 1980s.
“It shows their confidence in JBU,” said Gustavson, head soccer coach. “It’s like a built-in recruiting system. If everybody gets a son, trains him in soccer and sends him here, that would be a good thing. Then we know they’re coming from a good family.”
Paul’s father, Jeff, started playing soccer for JBU as a freshman in 1980. He sat out in 1981 because of knee surgery, after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, and then continued to play from 1982 through 1984. The last two years he played, JBU was the National Champion.
“I don’t think you can find a better coach than Gustavson,” Jeff said. “He’s hard, but he’s got integrity. He’s a great coach. Work hard and he’ll reward you accordingly. I know Coach will treat Paul right.”
Gustavson is no stranger to Paul. As a teenager, Paul attended five of Gustavson’s All-Star Soccer Camps in the summer. Paul played soccer and attended one year of school at Missouri Southern State College before transferring to play for JBU.
“I didn’t want to just follow my parents’ footsteps in going to the same school…Both my parents went to JBU, although my mom did not finish a degree,” Paul said. “I wanted to have more options, so I went to Missouri. But I didn’t like the team at Missouri, and the atmosphere wasn’t the best. When I found out I didn’t like it there, I came to JBU. So far, it has been good. Gustavson has really helped me out with a financial scholarship, and I really appreciate being able to come here.”
Paul and his father have both similarities and differences on the playing field. Both are midfielders, but Paul is left-footed and plays on the left side of the field, while his father, who is right-footed, played the right side of the field.
Gustavson said Jeff was more physically aggressive.
“He had a workhorse mentality,” Gustavson said.
On the other hand, Gustavson said, Paul has more finesse and style, with more ball control.
“Both are great players,” the coach said.
Jeff Barker is glad his son has the opportunity to play for JBU.
“It’s great,” he said. “I hope Paul enjoys it as much as I did. I would do it all over again if I had the chance.”
Jeff actually is coming back to JBU, but not for soccer. He is studying for a master’s degree in counseling through the Advance Program. He currently teaches Spanish at Elmwood Junior High in Rogers, Ark., and coaches soccer at Rogers High School.
“I wish I had the chance to see my dad play but I never got the opportunity while growing up,” Paul said. “[My father’s two National Championships] will always be in the back of my mind. I’d like to do the same here.”
Reprinted courtesy of the Threefold Advocate