No one ever told Oakman native Brianna Barrentine that a competitive nature in girls could evoke a negative connotation in society. If someone had told her this in the past, she obviously didn’t listen.
Even the mundane can become a competition for this 22-year-old. When she folds clothes or cleans her room, she does so with a mental toughness.
“I am competitive in everything I do,” she confesses with a big smile. “Sometimes I’ll compete against my brother to see who can finish folding the laundry first.”
This competitive spirit flows from within Brianna, and, coupled with faith, it is what has taken this young athlete to the next level.
The Miles College Golden Bears saw this same competitive spirit and gave her an opportunity to play softball that helped finance four years of college.
“I worked hard and earned the position of permanent first baseman,” she replies without hesitating. “Which was a dream come true because I’ve always wanted to play college softball since I was little girl.”
More specifically, since age five, Brianna corrects. As a child Brianna loved being outside and would always have a bat and ball in her hand.
“Softball is literally my passion over all other sports that I have played,” she says. “So I knew this was the sport to take me to the next level.”
Brianna played softball in high school, which she says gave her opportunities to play all over the state at parks she had never played in. But the college level opened the door to more opportunities.
“College ball gave me the biggest opportunities to travel and see places I’ve never seen before,” she says excitedly. “I have seen places throughout the country I thought I would never get to see like Baton Rouge, Louisville, Savannah, and even Miami, FL.”
Brianna attributes her success to many prayers and always putting God first. She says sacrifice and discipline also play an important secondary role to her faith in God.
“These factors definitely got me to the next level,” she says with a serious look. “I chose to make sacrifices even at the age of five. I sacrificed almost every day of my life for this sport plus time, money, and especially a social life.”
However, sacrifice for Brianna never made her bitter, just more determined.
“I believe my fellow teammates would say my personality stands out the most about me” she says very humbly. “I stay positive on the roughest workout days, the hardest practices, and just college life period. Trying to keep everybody motivated and positive was my biggest thing.”
With a determination to excel, it is no surprise Brianna earned many awards. She was named the 2013 SIAC MVP player of the Crossover Tournament and in 2014 she was awarded Best Fielders Award and Pre-Season All Conference Player. In 2012 she helped lead her team to win the 2012 Conference Championship.
Winning the Conference Championship has been a highlight of her career, but Brianna says walking across that stage and receiving her degree in biology has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the last four years.
This Miles softball player graduated this month after four years of play at the college level; however, she said none of these dreams would have come true without such strong support from her family.
“Just to see my family up in the stands and to know they are proud of me every time I stepped on that field was such a blessing,” she says. “It’s such a bittersweet feeling leaving college after so many wonderful opportunities and I’m going to miss it like crazy, but these memories will forever remain in my heart and I’m ready for the new chapter in my life.”
Brianna is undecided about where her future will take her now that the cleats are dusted and the glove and bat put away, but she has a few options in front of her.
She is praying that God will lead her down the next dusty path of life. 78