SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Everyone has multiple roles they play in life. Take Augustana University junior Sierra Barkus; she is a teammate, student, midfielder, sister and daughter, to name only a few.
“When it’s practice and when it’s games, I for sure say, ‘That’s coach,'” she said. “I feel like with our relationship, we can flip a switch with dad or coach. I can tell him things or when it’s here, it’s coach.”
Dad is simultaneously coach: Brandon Barkus, head coach of the Augie women’s soccer program.
“Everybody that I talk to that knows that my daughters play, they’re always like, ‘Oh, that’s gotta be so fun, that’s so cool,'” Brandon said. “The reality is it’s tough. It’s really hard.”
After all, he’s got to play more than one role, too.
“As your kids age, they want freedom and independence, and trying to coach them without being the dad sometimes is tough,” Brandon said. “I think sometimes when I’m coaching them, maybe a little more critical on them, and it’s hard for them not to maybe take it personal.”
He has two kids, and both are on Augie’s women’s soccer team. His oldest is Jillian, a fifth-year senior who plays goalkeeper.
“Not a lot of people expect me to like it that much. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, he must be the hardest on you, he must treat you like the worst player on the team,'” Jillian said. “But it’s jokes all around. It’s a hug after practice and then ‘I love you’ and then ‘I’ll see you later’ type of thing. It’s awesome.”
“I think I’m 99.9% coach and very seldom dad,” her father said. “So like after games, most of the women would go and hang out with their families and go to dinner or hang out, whatever they do. My daughters go to their mom.”
Soccer is a game of rhythm; players who know their teammates’ habits, strengths and style are able to perform better both individually and as a collective. Teams with talented individuals who don’t play as a cohesive group are prone to fail. Therefore, if you have two literal sisters on the roster, the squad’s chemistry can benefit.
“I feel like we’ve always just had a really close relationship, so I felt like we’re able to communicate in a soccer way and a sister way,” Sierra said.
“It’s amazing,” Jillian said. “We joke all the time, but whenever we’re on the field together, we’re very serious. We get at each other. Like, we’re teammates, but then when we get home we’re back to sisters. It’s awesome.”
“I feel like it gave me more confidence because I knew how she played. She encourages me,” Sierra said. “So I feel like it’s always been a positive playing with her.”
And from dad’s perspective, coaching them is a delight, to say the least.
“There could not be anything that would give me more joy,” Brandon said. “I mean, seeing their growth and their maturity, their independence. It’s really been incredible, and again I feel really blessed. I’ve got two extraordinary kids.”
“I don’t think I’d change a single thing, playing with my sister or for my dad,” Sierra said. “I really like it.”
The team has an exhibition match on Saturday against SDSU. Their 2023 schedule starts Friday, September 1 against Central Missouri.