STUDENT PROFILE SERIES
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
OXFORD – Oxford High School senior Tyler Barrie achieved something that is rarely done in high school sports when he was chosen captain for three different sports this year - football, basketball, and baseball—an accomplishment that really only tells half his story.
During his sophomore year in the middle of football season, Barrie was faced with a much bigger challenge in life than going to class and playing football. Awoken by an early December morning phone call right before Christmas, he was told that his father Scott had passed away.
“It was shocking, it was something I didn’t expect,” said Barrie. “I talked to him on the phone the night before and we made plans to talk again the next day and I remember waking up to a phone call and I walked into the next room and my mom (Kim) was crying. She had a blank stare on her face, and then she told me.”
The first person he could think of to reach out to was his football coach at the time, Jeff Parcells, who was also a guidance counselor at the high school. “I called Coach Parcells; his father passed away when he young too. He was really there for me. He came over and brought me a Christmas present.’
“I remember we played Shepherd Hill a few days afterwards and everybody that I knew was there supporting me.” They had postponed the game until Tuesday so everyone could attend his father’s wake on Monday.
“I’m glad I play sports because it gave me a way to cope with it. If I didn’t play sports it would be a lot worse,” said Barrie.
It was his father who played catch with him when he was young and encouraged him to play sports. Barrie played for the Charlton-Dudley American youth football team, which went undefeated for three seasons, winning state championships each year.
With his AYB team, he developed a bond with many kids on the team and wanted to stay with them and attend Shepherd Hill, but he couldn’t get in to the school. That turned out to be their loss and Oxford High School’s gain.
Barrie also played on the Oxford senior league baseball team, which won the state championship. That helped kick off his high school baseball career. He will be the team’s captain this spring.
When asked about the highlights of his high school years, the answer always has something to do with sports. Of many great moments, winning the Central Mass title with the baseball team in his junior year and making it to the state semi-finals under coach Justin Richards was his biggest thrill. “That was really cool.”
As far as his basketball career goes, Barrie is the midst of an outstanding senior season in which he has been a major contributor for his team. One of his biggest fans is his basketball coach, Sean Halloran.
“I have had Tyler since he was a freshman and I knew right then that he had the talent to be a significant varsity athlete. He is obviously a heck of an athlete,” said Halloran.
“As he progressed he gave us some minutes last year and this year he is arguably, on any given night, our best player. He’s very versatile and has a great knack for the ball; he’s great in the open court, and great on the press. “His football background playing the safety position helps him see where the ball is going; it’s nice how all the sports mesh together.”
Barrie’s biggest asset of all according to Halloran is that “he is a great kid. I unexpectedly lost my Dad maybe a year after Tyler did and I wouldn’t say that’s a bond but I would say that we are not the first people to go through it. For him to go through it at such a young age is a testament to his career. Not only is he a great athlete but he’s an excellent young man. He’s been though a lot and he has persevered. I know a game doesn’t go by when he doesn’t think about his Dad. It has been a real pleasure coaching him the last four years,” said Halloran.
Oxford High School Principal Kevin Wells also knows how special Barrie is. “Tyler Barrie in general has really worked in his high school career. Being a three-sport captain is like Knute Rockne of old. He has really done a good job of trying to balance his skill set in every single sport,” said Wells. “Clearly, being named captain is one of the things that he has produced statistically to put him in that position and he has those leadership qualities. He has overcome a lot of adversity, he is a really great kid in terms of his personality, commitment and dedication and I wish him all the luck in the world.”
Barrie plans to continue his football career while attending either Worcester State University or Westfield State University to major in Criminal Justice and eventually become a police officer. “I’m trying to decide between the two schools. I don’t know whether to get away and enjoy the college life or go to Worcester State where they have a great football program.”
You don’t have to talk to Tyler Barrie for very long to find out what a good kid he is and how dedicated he is and it’s a pretty good bet that wherever he goes to school, he will do just fine.