Every player on a team has a role to play. Some are asked to lead the team in scoring, others are tasked with anchoring the defense, while still others are required to provide more intangible contributions.
Gillian Barfield’s box score numbers from her first two years at Gonzaga won’t jump off the page at you, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a part to play.
As a reserve, Barfield is tasked with bringing the juice to practice everyday to ensure the starters are pushed and adequately prepared. Even though she may not get the shine that a starter does from fans and the media, her role is crucial in ensuring the players ahead of her on the depth chart are challenged and develop, which helps the team move towards its goals.
The Region Player of the Year in basketball during her senior season at Phoenix Country Day in Arizona, Barfield also starred in volleyball and tennis and is certainly a well-rounded athlete. Coming from that background to a situation where you’re not given consistent minutes in the rotation can wear on any athlete, regardless of their understanding and expectation of their role on a team. We see time and time again how easily and quickly athletes can slip into becoming malcontents because they’re not happy with their role. It is a credit to Barfield, and a trait we consistently see Gonzaga target in its athletes, how wholly committed she is to the team ethos and the concept of “Family” that drives both the mens and womens programs.
Barfield can frequently be seen providing encouragement and energy on the bench, and it’s evident that she is a a well liked by her teammates. Who can forget Katie Campbell jumping into Barfield’s arms as the Zags watched the NCAA Tournament Selection Show last March?
Last season, Barfield scored the first bucket of her career against Western Kentucky in last year’s holiday tournament, to the delight of her teammates. With her attitude and work ethic, you can count on that happening a few more times this season.