Better Than She Found It
When Devin Barrett was a senior coming up on her final game in the Crimson and Cream, her coach and teammates all agreed on one thing.
Barrett had left the program better than she found it.
A mantra that head coach Matt Potter instills in all his teams is to leave the OU soccer program better than when they arrived. Barrett, a prime example of what it means to be a good leader and teammate, took this to heart and used it to fuel her career, on the field and off.
"Devin, as a teammate, was someone you could always rely on," former teammate and current director of operations Jemma Cota shared. "She held everybody accountable on the field and off the field. She was someone who could be outgoing and have a good time, but she would always revert to what Matt wanted as a program."
When deciding where to attend college, Barrett wanted a school with good academics and a soccer program that she could help grow. Barrett hoped to leave a sense of continuity for future players to know that they are a part of a family and can always turn to former players when they need help.
At OU, she got just that.
"I decided to attend OU because, when I was looking for where to go to college, I was looking for a college that had a strong reputation, both in academics and athletics," she said. "I also wanted a soccer program that was looking to grow and think outside the box. From the moment I stepped on campus at OU, I knew that this was that place I could do that at."
Barrett's first season at OU saw the team win just seven games but knock off in-state rival Oklahoma State for the first time in 11 games. As a sophomore, OU won just four games. However, 2014 season saw the growth Barrett had hoped for.
During that season, the Sooners, who were picked last in the Big 12 preseason poll, beat five ranked teams, made a run in the Big 12 Championship final and logged the program's third appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Barrett was the catalyst for the success that season, leading the team with five goals on the year. She had the game-winning goal against No. 10 Texas Tech and scored one of two goals in a 2-0 victory over Oklahoma State.
"Devin was always a voice," Cota said. "She was someone that could hold anybody accountable. She was strict and hard and honestly, you would gravitate toward her because she knew what had to be done. My freshman year, she was still kind of feeling her place because, as a sophomore, we were still underclassmen, but she built relationships to push her up into her junior year. I think that helped her a ton because she carried a lot of our team. She made sure we were all on the same page and we all had to give to something that was bigger. She really bought into that vision and she helped us all do the same."
"Devin was someone you could always rely on. She held everybody accountable on the field and off the field."
- Teammate Jemma Cota
The Sooners recorded back-to-back 10 win seasons in Barrett's final two years. As a senior, Barrett's last home game was against the Cowgirls and became a game she'll never forget.
"I will always remember my last home game as a Sooner," she said. "It was senior night playing Oklahoma State and I will never forget it. You spend four years waiting for that game, then playing against an in-state rival and beating OSU was such a great feeling."
Though her favorite memories are Sooner wins, Barrett's advice to the current team isn't about the wins or losses, but the camaraderie from being a part of a team.
"Being a part of an institution like OU's is a unique opportunity and one that doesn't come around often in life. Enjoy it. Take it all in," Barrett continued. "Playing on this team is a privilege you'll never get to experience again, and you shouldn't take it for granted. Don't get too result focused. People get incredibly focused on the outcomes, but you learn the most from the moments leading up to those outcomes. Cherish your time spent with your teammates. These are friendships you'll carry with you for the rest of your life."
When her athletic career ended in 2015, Barrett wasn't concerned about the next step in life, knowing that her time as a student-athlete at OU had set her up for success upon graduation.
"A lot of people in the world of sports have played for their entire lives," she said. "Having to find new opportunities after that can seem like a huge challenge. All of the skills you use on the field are so transferable to the working world. As an athlete, the level of discipline, commitment and problem-solving skills you have to have on the field sets you up for success, no matter what career you choose in life."
Barrett, who had dreams of going to law school upon graduating in 2015, now works in Washington, D.C. for a member of Congress from Oklahoma. Barrett attributes her ability to be effective in working for Oklahomans to the time she spent in Oklahoma as a member of the soccer team.
"Matt started on day one with all of us hoping we would leave the program more complete people," Barrett said. "I can, without a doubt, say his lessons and the opportunities and resources the athletics department and university provided allowed me to take steps toward that. I am incredibly thankful for the values Matt instilled in me and the rest of the team. I am a stronger person now because of my time spent at OU."
Cota, who still keeps in touch with Barrett on a regular basis, isn't surprised that Barrett has been successful since leaving OU. She expected that Barrett's work ethic on the field would translate to her work ethic in life.
"It's no surprise that you see Devin where she is now," Cota said. "She's worked so hard and I think it is a direct reflection of when she played at OU. She used everything she learned and all these skills and lessons and brought it to where she's at now. The growth she's had from back then to now, it's amazing to see where she's at and all that she's accomplished."