Lauren Barnes has been part of Reign FC since the club’s inaugural season in 2013. The centerback and captain knows well the values that the club hold are dear and takes her role of upholding those values and teaching them to others seriously.
“I’ve poured my heart and soul into this club for seven seasons now,” Barnes said. “I take a lot of pride in that. I hope that when I wear the captain’s armband that I really express what this club is about and where we want to go, the growth of it all. It’s really important to me to wear it and I just hope that I represent what we want to show on and off the field. It’s an honor to wear it. I love this club and being dedicated here and trying to keep our core values with new faces coming in and out is really important to me.”
As a veteran leader, Barnes helps to lead and encourage the younger players on the team to promote a competitive environment.
“With the younger ones, I try to give them as much advice from my experiences as possible,” Barnes said. “It’s something I had as well in the leagues before the NWSL. Players with all this experience gave me advice before. Information handed down is the most important thing. It’s so hard to come into a team as a young player and break in, so I try to make them understand that we’re there to help them succeed. We don’t want them to be scared, we want them to be brave. If they’re doing that, they’re pushing the older players to raise our standards each practice and game. That’s what you need at this level.”
The defender has 146 appearances in the NWSL, starting 143 of them. Barnes acknowledges that she’s had to make changes to her game to continue to play at a high level as the NWSL has progressed.
“I think the changes come with experience,” Barnes said. “I’ve played so many games by now, it helps with how you see things. Working with different coaches, I’ve been able to adapt and grab a little bit of everything to evolve into the player I want to be. You get that from playing so much, the experience that goes with it. I feel like my role later on in my years here has been one of leadership through guiding and performing. It’s been important to me. I strive to be consistent to help the club and put us in a good position. I guess it comes down to being able to adapt. Listening to what we need when we need it. If there’s something in my game that needs to change, then I’ll go out there to figure it out.”
Barnes has played every minute of Reign FC’s 15 matches this season. In 10 of her appearances, she has gone the full 90 minutes without conceding a foul. A standout defensive performance in the club’s win against Portland on August 7 earned her Reign FC’s Player of the Match award, as the club shut out the highest-scoring offense in the league for the second time in 2019.
Facing Utah Royals FC on Sunday, Barnes knows that she can expect to see a familiar face in former Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. Barnes credits Harvey with helping her make one of the changes that kept her competitive in an evolving league, having the then-23-year-old switch from left back to the centerback role she still plays today.
“(Harvey) believed in me and gave me the confidence to know that I can play that position at this level,” Barnes said. “I’ll always be so grateful for that. Over the five years that I was with her, she’s always helped me continue to grow. We continue to be friends and talk. She’s more than a coach to me. It’s always nice to have that relationship. I wish her the best, but not when we play each other.”