Notre Dame Prep’s Keegan Barger will play in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic. (Katherine Dunn, Baltimore Sun video)
Notre Dame Prep's Keegan Barger scored goals, controlled draws and played stellar defense this spring for the No. 3 Blazers, also the No. 3 team nationally in USA Today's Super 25. The All-Metro midfielder will finish her high school career in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium as one of 13 Baltimore girls selected for the nation's top senior all-star game.
A four-year soccer and lacrosse player for the Blazers, Barger began her athletics career as a gymnast. She won the Level 4 all-around state championship at 10 before the pull of club soccer and club lacrosse took her out of the gym. In October of her sophomore year, she committed to play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins. Barger, who had a 4.1 GPA at NDP isn't sure what she will study but is intrigued by medical research.
What are you looking forward to about the Under Armour All-America game?
I'm so excited to play with all the girls I've been playing against and be on the same team as them as well as play with my club teammates Catie May and Andie Aldave [from McDonogh]. I'm excited to play with such talented girls. I thought this summer when we had our last club game – I think Lax for the Cure was our last Sky Walkers game – I was looking at Andie, she would take the draw and I'd be on the circle and I'm thinking, "This is it, This is our last game together," and we won that game and it was awesome, but now I get another chance to play with her and Catie. And I'm excited for all the stuff we get [laughs]. The gear is awesome.
What made your NDP lacrosse team so successful this year?
I think that we were just so close as a team. Despite there being 40-something girls on the team, we were so close together and I think that bonded very well on the field and then our coaching staff and [head] coach Mac Ford really helped us incorporate all those girls and use it as an advantage. We were able to scrimmage full field with two separate teams during practices and we got a lot done. We had so much talent on one team and he used it very well.
What was the highlight of your NDP athletic career?
I would say it was the championship [the IAAM A Conference lacrosse championship in May]. Even though we lost, it was just great to be able to get there my final year with that group of girls. It was just such a fun time.
How did you get started playing lacrosse?
I think through older cousins. They've always played. My uncles, some of them played in college. My dad played his senior year at Loyola University, so my parents kind of just put me out there with a stick and I just started playing. I guess I really liked it [laughs].
Because of soccer and lacrosse. It was really hard for me because I did like gymnastics a lot, but I'd rather play soccer and lacrosse than just gymnastics. My family was rooted in both of those sports, and why give up both when I could just give up one. I don't think I could ever trade being outside and playing a team sport for just being indoors.
How did being a gymnast help you as a lacrosse player?
I definitely got a lot stronger. I started when I was 2 and they already had us doing like pullups and crazy things on the bar and the beam. It helped me a lot with my balance. I was just stronger and I guess that made me faster on the field.
When the choice came down to lacrosse or soccer, why did you choose to focus on lacrosse?
I love soccer. My brother [Gavin Barger] plays soccer at Penn and my dad played soccer all of his life, but I guess I just like lacrosse better. I liked my teams better. It was a hard decision. That's for sure. I was playing soccer club and lacrosse club at the same time, and lacrosse recruiting came obviously before soccer. I had to take into consideration, "Am I going to follow lacrosse or am I going to wait and do soccer?" I was like, "I think it's lacrosse," and that just kind of happened. I just knew.
What do you think is the best part of your lacrosse game?
I love being the team player that helps everyone out and hustles between the 30s and making everyone just pumped up. Even though it's not the goal, I love getting assists and getting draw controls, being able to get the ball at the start of the game and run it down [to goal]. That's a huge starter when you get the first draw.
Why did you chose Johns Hopkins?
I stepped on the campus and it was kind of an I-know feeling. I loved the coaches. I love coach [Janine] Tucker and coach [Tara] Singleton and coach [Steele] Stanwick and the girls. The team was so welcoming and nice. Not to mention that it's 40 minutes away from my house, so I'm far away if I want to be, but then I can come home. I love being with my family and all my cousins can come see a game if they want. That's kind of important to me.
I really like science and math. I'm a really logical person I think, really straightforward. I really like biology or environmental science, but I could get there and it could all change. I'm interested in medicine with all the things that have come in, the progress that's being made with treatments, like cancer treatments.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I just got a surfboard, so I'm learning how to surf. That's kind of cool. I love hiking. That's one of my favorite things to do, one of the main reasons why my cousins and everyone are going to Montana later this summer. We're staying on a big lake and going llama riding and whitewater rafting and hiking through the mountains.