COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Kevin Barber has been a steady fixture in the midfield for the U.S. Men’s National Team since 2007. He has competed in 61 international competitions and will soon add to his athletic resume World League Round 1. The U.S. will host Guatemala and Mexico for the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) World League event, November 16-18.
When Barber is not training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Cali., he is coaching youngsters at a local elementary school.
Usafieldhockey.com caught up with Barber to talk about life in Chula Vista. and what he is looking forward to as the U.S. prepares for their first international competition in over a year.
It has been over a year since you and the U.S. Men’s National Team has competed in an international competition. Are you excited, nervous, or a little bit to take the pitch and compete again?
I’m really excited. This year has flown by and it was cool getting a chance to take on some other things. On the other hand, I love playing and being able to compete in international matches is so special. It can be hard to practice for months at a time and not get to the opportunity to play in a real game. We've all had the World League Round 1 on our calendars for a while and we're ready to go.
How has the central training program in Chula Vista helped you prepare for the upcoming tournament?
I think the creation of our central training program is a huge step in the right direction. It's great being able to wake up every morning and train with a solid group of men with the same focus. The atmosphere at the Olympic Training Center is so inspiring. Seeing all the awesome athletes around and just being in that environment has motivated all the guys to elevate their game.
You landed a coaching job in Chula Vista. Tell us a little bit about the new gig and how your experience has been so far.
It's been amazing. There are six elementary schools in the area who have close to 1,000 kids playing field hockey weekly. I show students some basic skills to practice, and then we play all sorts of fun, little games. It's pretty cool to see how excited they get over the game. The staff has been amazing as well. They are so kind and receptive to giving their students a chance to learn a new sport, while having fun and getting exercise in the process. I'm organizing a tournament for them at the Olympic Training Center in December. Then it's just going to be about giving them the ability to continue to play and grow the sport. I know first-hand what a healthy outlet sports can be growing up and there is so much opportunity in field hockey.
Where is the team in terms of preparation for World League?
We just had inner squad matches in Moorpark, Cali. over the weekend. The rest of our guys are flying in to San Diego this week. It's mostly just getting everyone on the same page and some fine tuning now.
Any thoughts on the opponents you will face during this tournament?
I've played against Mexico a few times and they are very fast and play really well as a team. I know that game is going to take a lot of discipline. I'm not very familiar with Guatemala, but I know we are not going to underestimate anyone and just play our game.
What’s the difference between the U.S. team who competed last fall at the Pan American Games to the U.S. team now?
The team now is much younger. We have a handful of teenagers who I think add a lot to the team dynamic. At the same time, we still have the experience of guys like Ian Scally, Jon Ginolfi, and the Harris brothers. It's a good mix.
What are your personal goals for this tournament?
I want to put in a good performance for my team and win games. Also, I'm stoked to be hosting the tournament, have my friends and family there, and give field hockey some exposure in Southern California.
The full USA roster will be announced by Head Coach Chris Clements early next week. All World League Round 1 matches will be streamed live on usafieldhockey.com. Follow the latest news, results and more on usafieldhockey.com and @USAFieldHockey.