Playing sports in the Pac-12 is a huge accomplishment for any athlete, as it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to reach that level. Sophomore Alyssa Barrera on the University of Utah softball team made it. But Barrera is not the only Pac-12 athlete in her family.
Barrera has two younger brothers, Diego and Daniel, who are both on their way to play baseball at Pac-12 universities. Diego plans to play at the University of Washington, while Diego just recently signed with the University of Southern California to solidify an entire family of Pac-12 athletes.
“It’s awesome to have both of my brothers entering the Pac-12 along with me,” said Barrera. “I hope that they do better than I do, because I just want them to excel and to have as much fun as I am. I want it to be great for them when they get to this level because it is an amazing opportunity and a blessing, and I hope that they get to live what I am living right now.”
The Pac-12 is one of the most competitive university conferences in the nation, but for Barrera, the step up was not as big as she had anticipated from travel ball to college ball. Barrera commented that the transition into college ball felt like another level of travel ball for her.
This southern California native has been used to high levels of competition and play and adapted very quickly to Utah softball and the quick pace of the game. Transitioning from one high level of play to another has resulted in a lot of familiar faces, Barrera said that she recognizes a player on almost every big team she faces.
Of course, Barrera has had a lot of support from her family. Both her mom and dad played sports growing up, and her dad played football in college.
“We are young parents and when the kids were born, we would bring Alyssa out to the girls to watch slow pitch softball and soccer at the park,” said Alyssa’s father Ed Barrera. “We made sure that the kids were always around sports. It has always been a part of their lives. We want the kids to know the difference between winning and losing in any situation.”
Ed was a first-generation college student and does his best to provide the best environment for his kids to grow up and adapt to competition. Now that Alyssa is playing in college, she is more independent and knows much more about herself as a player. Ed is transitioning from coach to the role of supportive parent.
As a former college athlete, Ed pushes all of his kids to be mentally tough, and the best individuals that they can be. He wants all of them to have the best experience possible as college athletes.
“Growing up with two brothers, it has always been competitive. We are all really close in age so everything we have done together has always been a competition, and that has sparked me to being tough when I play on the field,” Alyssa said. “Being raised by both of my parents that way has had a big contribution to the way that I play my game today.”
Alyssa’s family is very thankful for the fact that Utah’s games are aired live on television, and they catch games on ESPN or on the Pac-12 Network to watch Alyssa play with the Utes.
In addition to starting her second season as a Ute, Alyssa is working towards completing her general education requirements before applying to the highly competitive David Eccles Business school. As she faces these major events in her life, her father has words of advice for his daughter.
“I have always told her that with everything you do in life, you have to wake up every day wanting to win. In business, life or in sports, you have to compete every day. You have to show up to work and to school every day wanting to win,” said Ed. “You should always push to get the best out of yourself every day.”