Jessica Barnes is the rare two-sport athlete who excels at both.
An outfielder on the FGCU softball team, Barnes leads the team in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage. She won the Atlantic Sun Player of the week March 6-11.
In the fall, as an outside hitter for the volleyball team, Barnes was fourth on the Eagles in kills.
Barnes was recruited to FGCU as a softball player. FGCU volleyball coach Dave Nichols saw Barnes’ athleticism and gave her an opportunity on his team.
Nichols calls Barnes the best athlete on campus.
“When I first came to FGCU, I was recruited by Cheyenne Jenks, who was an outstanding softball and volleyball player,” Barnes said. “Coach Nichols saw that I was interested in volleyball. He gave me the opportunity to play volleyball as well as softball. So even though it was a long process, it worked out in the end.”
Even though she plays two completely different sports, Barnes finds a way to balance the two.
In the fall during volleyball season, Barnes doesn’t even pick up a bat.
“In the fall, I only focus on volleyball and I do not do anything training-wise for softball,” Barnes said. When spring comes, I focus only on softball.”
Even though she proved herself in volleyball, Barnes is still learning the concepts of the game.
“I feel like I’m still learning volleyball as the years progress,” Barnes said. “With softball, I have more experience, so I am refining my skills.”
Barnes notes, however, that as the years go by she gets better in each sport.
“This year, in volleyball, I had a lot more playing time and I felt that I was able to see the court a lot better,” Barnes said. “This year, in softball, I already feel like that I am able to help my team out a lot more than I did last year.”
Barnes expects that she will once again be playing both sports in their respective seasons next year.
One of Barnes’ teammates on the softball team is Amanda Josie.
Josie, a sophomore pitcher who has been playing alongside Barnes since last year, feels that she is a great asset to the team.
“She is definitely a big contribution, especially to the outfielders, and she hits leadoff, which gets us going,” Josie said.
Josie also feels that Barnes’ presence on the team serves as a motivator to the team.
“She has a great attitude and she’s always energetic,” Josie said.
“She helps us get pumped for the game.”
Josie knew Barnes before they came to FGCU because they played on opposing travel teams.
“She is a great athlete and having her around makes everyone want to be better,” Josie said.