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Blugold volleyball helps CSD graduate student stay calm during academic, clinical experiences

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: Communication sciences and disorders graduate student Arianna Barrett was able to successfully balance her academic and clinical responsibilities with her athletic commitments at UW-Eau Claire.

Arianna Barrett has excelled in stressful situations on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball court, where she was a four-time first-team all-conference player and was named most outstanding player of the national tournament as the Blugolds won the 2021 national championship. 

Those athletic experiences have helped the communication sciences and disorders graduate student channel a sense of calm during her academic and clinical training.

Arianna Barrett volleyball 4

“Ari stays very calm, cool and collected, even in challenging or unexpected situations or scenarios,” says Dr. Tom Sather, an associate professor of communication science and disorders. “She’s calm and methodical. I’m guessing that given some of her high-pressure matches and situations on the (volleyball) court translates to a strong mental approach to stress, challenges and maintaining calm in these moments. Clients and her peers notice that and appreciate it.”

Blugold volleyball also helped introduce Barrett to her academic program and her future career. As an undecided freshman, Barrett knew she wanted to major in the sciences with an opportunity to help others. She was introduced to communication sciences and disorders by the volleyball team manager who was a CSD student.

“I was fascinated by the things she was learning and decided that this is the path I wanted to pursue in my undergrad,” Barrett says.

Arianna Barrett volleyball 5

Barrett, a Lakeville, Minnesota, native, earned her undergraduate degree in May 2022 with a CSD major and gerontology certificate. With her sights set on being a speech therapist, she decided to pursue her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders at UW-Eau Claire.

“The faculty and staff are truly remarkable at UW-Eau Claire,” says Barrett, who will graduate in May 2024. “They care about the students as individuals and want each of us to succeed in any task we are performing. Not only are they great people, but they are incredible professors who want us to learn the content and not just test us.”

Graduate school also allowed Barrett to compete in a fifth season with the Blugold volleyball team, which was possible as the NCAA has granted athletes an additional year of eligibility because of the effect COVID-19 had on sports seasons. Barrett made the most of her extra year, earning multiple honors in fall 2022:

  •        College Sports Communicators Academic All-America Third Team.
  •        CSC Academic All-District Team.
  •        American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Honorable Mention.
  •        AVCA All-Region First Team.
  •        2022 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic All-Conference First Team.
  •        2022 WIAC Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete Award.
Arianna Barrett volleyball 2

Like many Blugolds, Barrett had to balance her academic and clinical responsibilities with her athletic commitments. Collegiate athletes, including those at NCAA Division III schools like UW-Eau Claire, are challenged by extensive time commitments to academics and sports.

Sather says Barrett navigates the commitments with strong time-management skills and an upbeat attitude.

“She seems to embrace those dual challenges that come with the student-athlete roles,” Sather says. “Being able to harness time in a productive way is a lifelong skill and challenge, and she shows a strong capacity to do so — and to do so at a high level.”