Men's Soccer: Longtime Princetonian keeps on kicking
For over 20 years, Jim Barlow has been a name synonymous with Princeton men’s soccer. Barlow started his long and storied Princeton career as a student athlete, arriving on campus in 1987 and graduating in 1991. He was the 1987 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, 1990 Ivy League Player of the Year and a three-time first-team all-Ivy League selection.
Barlow was obviously a very successful player at Princeton, but his success at and connection with the University has extended far past his days as a student. After receiving his master’s in 1994, he quickly returned to Princeton as the head coach in 1996. Barlow led Princeton to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 10 years in 1998. He took the Tigers to the NCAA tournament in two of the last three seasons and has a career coaching record that includes more wins than losses.
For Barlow, however, Princeton is much more than just a school or soccer program.
“I feel like I have such a strong connection to this place having gone here and having had such a good experience as an undergraduate here,” Barlow said. “I feel pretty proud. It’s a pretty special thing to be able to try to continue the program that I enjoyed being a part of for my four years here.”
Having been here for such a long time, one might expect Barlow to think of Princeton differently now than he once did and for Princeton to have changed under his watch. However, despite all the physical change that has taken place on campus, not much has changed in his approach.
“It’s still really about getting a group of guys to be committed to something and work really hard together,” Barlow said.
For Barlow, trying to become a better player, team and person have always been at the core of being an athlete at Princeton, and the same remains true today.
The source of Barlow’s love for Princeton has also remained constant. For the coach, the people are what have and will always make this place special.
“My favorite thing about Princeton has always been the people,” Barlow said. “I think there are so many unique, special, good-natured, good-hearted people here that it’s really fun to be part of this community.”
Hearing the coach speak about the people and community of Princeton gives off a clear feeling of pride. For Barlow, however, pinpointing what he is most proud of is difficult, and maybe not what the average fan would expect.
“I think feeling that you might have contributed in some small way to some of the things that our guys go on to do and the people they become afterwards, the players who have gone on to serve our country, the players who have gone on to med school, trying to make a real impact in the world,” Barlow said of what he is most proud.
Barlow also said he is still in touch with many of the players he is so proud to have coached.
In his 17th season as Princeton’s head soccer coach, Barlow is as excited as ever. He spoke a little bit about his thoughts on this year’s team, how the season has gone and his optimism about the future.
“We challenged ourselves with an extremely difficult pre-Ivy schedule with five Big East teams and the Princeton tournament this weekend, and coming out of it 4-3 is OK,” Barlow said. “It’s a solid record, especially given the strength of schedule that we have, but more importantly I think we’re a lot better of a team than we were three weeks ago. We look more organized; we look more like a team. I think we’ve figured out our formation, our shape. For the most part we’ve had a consistent group over the last few games that has performed pretty well, and now we want to see if that can carry over into the league because we know all of these games are going to be really tough.”
A true Princetonian, Barlow shows admiration for the school simply in how he speaks about it. His Tigers host Dartmouth on Saturdayat 5 p.m.
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