Gateway: Sports

Versatile Gig Harbor defender Barton signs with Southern Utah

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When Jaylynn Barton was a toddler and her brothers were playing in a soccer game, she always wanted in on the action.

“I’d crawl out of my stroller and onto the field,” Barton said. “I’ve always had a knack for soccer.”

She’s been making moves on the soccer field ever since. And now, the Gig Harbor defender and 2018 state champion is making her biggest move yet: Division I college soccer.

Barton committed and signed with Southern Utah University recently, a member of the Big Sky Conference located in Cedar City, Utah, 250 miles south of Salt Lake City and 170 miles north of Las Vegas.

Barton, actually, hadn’t ever heard of Southern Utah before. But when one her coaches at Washington Premiere, Jonas Tanzer, took a job as an assistant with the Thunderbirds, Barton was all ears.

“I went and visited in September,” Barton said. “I really liked it. It’s really small, which I like. It had what I needed for majors.”

The only thing holding her back from making her decision? The level of play on the field. Southern Utah finished a 2-15-1 overall record in 2018, just one spot out of the bottom of the conference. After winning a state championship with Gig Harbor in the fall and posted an undefeated season, Barton was hesitant about signing with a two-win program.

“They’re a building team,” Barton said. “They hadn’t recruited much in the past. But I know their coaching staff is good and will work on getting good players. I’ve watched them play a few times. They have good potential, there’s just some things that need to click. I know those key things, I’m confident I can help them with that. They’re kind of expecting that. They believe in me, too. I know other players they’ve recruited. It’s all coming together really well.”

Barton played all over the field for the Tides in the fall, playing left back and center back, and also in the midfield, while also going forward for the Tides and scoring crucial late-game goals in the attack. It’s that kind of versatility that made her an intriguing prospect to Fred Thompson, the program’s head coach.

“They liked my versatility,” she said. “I’ll be playing primarily defensive center mid for them. I can play different positions. They liked my strength on the ball. They really wanted to build the team around me. They told me I’ll be a really key player to the program, being able to distribute the ball.”

Barton said she was thrilled to be able to go out on top as a high school player, winning the Class 3A state title.

“It was really great, especially with the people around me,” Barton said. “I had really close friends on the team. It was nice to finish with them. That’s the last time I’ll play with them. That was so great. It was a good confidence booster.”

Barton said she’s planning to study business administration or health management at Southern Utah, with the eventual goal of working in a hospital.

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