March 25, 2010
By David Driver
For the Lake Oswego Review
Used with permission
Harrisonburg, Va. - Robyn Barton, unlike many college seniors, has pretty much mapped out the next 18 months of her life. That is pretty impressive during rough economic times and for someone who has been a Division I athlete for the past four years at William & Mary, a demanding academic institution in Williamsburg, Va.
The Lake Oswego High School graduate, who concluded her college basketball career here March 11 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament, plans to graduate on May 16 with a major in marketing and a minor in economics.
Eight days later she plans to leave for Florence, Italy and will spend nine weeks there as she studies Italian. Then she heads to France and will be there until late December and she tries to become fluent in French. And in January, 2011 she plans to be in Milan, Italy to begin a program in fashion management.
Barton was named honorable mention on the all-CAA academic team March 10 and has a grade-point average around 3.1. For the past two summers she spent time in Europe.
She had an internship with the U.S. State Department in Lithuania the summer of 2009 and spent time in France and in Prague, Czech Republic in 2008. Barton, a first-team all-district player at Lake Oswego in 2006, said the downside to her European summer jaunts was time away from family in Oregon.
"It is not as hard as it sounds," she said of attending college on the other side of the country. "Everyplace is just a plane ride away. It was tough not getting to see my family as often. But that was a choice I made. I wouldn't trade being in Europe for anything. It was great."
Barton, a 6-foot reserve guard for the Tribe, came off the bench but did not score as No. 11 seed William & Mary lost to No. 7 Hofstra in the first round of the CAA tournament at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. The Tribe ended the year with a record of 12-18. Barton played in 17 games, with one start and averaged about seven minutes and less than two points per game.
The highlight of her season came on Senior Night when she started against Drexel, the 2009 CAA tourney champs. She played 28 minutes and had a season-high 11 points and a career-high four assists as the Tribe shocked Drexel, 71-65, in the regular-season finale March 3. Her mother made the trip from Oregon to be there for the game.
"Senior Night was pretty special," Barton said. As a freshman Barton came off the bench in 26 games and averaged 9.3 minutes and 2.7 points per game. She averaged 9.2 minutes and 2.2 points as a sophomore, when she played in 23 games with three starts. And last season as a junior she averaged 5.9 minutes and 0.6 points per contest.
"Nobody goes off to play Division I basketball to sit the bench their entire career," said Barton, who picked a full ride to William & Mary over Cal-Davis, which was making the transition from Division II to Division I when she was being recruited. "It is something you have to deal with. I think I am stronger for it."
William & Mary has had just two winning season in 11 years under head coach Debbie Taylor. The last came in Barton's freshman season, when the Tribe was 19-12. The CAA includes Old Dominion, which had won 17 straight league titles until Drexel broke the streak last year. Another strong team is James Madison, which was nationally-ranked earlier this season and beat ODU at home on March 14 to win the CAA tourney title and get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"I think we are getting higher-caliber players every single year," Barton said. "And a lot more height. We had a young team this year and the CAA is a tough league, a very good league."
Barton, during the past two summers in Europe, said she rarely touched a basketball - by design. She played against men on occasion in Lithuania, a country that is passionate about its men's national team. Barton's boyfriend is from Lithuania, played college ball at William and Mary and now plays pro hoops in Latvia.
In high school, where she was a captain as a senior, Barton also played volleyball and ran track. She said she is ready for the next phase of her life. "I am ready to move on from that," she said of basketball. Barton said she may try to play some volleyball in Europe in the next few months.
William & Mary has some of the toughest academic standards for athletes in CAA schools. And Division I basketball players play a sport that encompasses both semesters. Now that the season is over Barton plans to spend time volunteering with the American Red Cross and a therapeutic horseback program before graduation - and the next 18 months in Europe.
"I guess it depends on the person. For me it was never difficult," she said of combining academic and athletics.