Getting to Know Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart

Washington Spirit  |   July 3, 2024

Nicole Barnhart is a women’s soccer legend and professional women’s soccer trailblazer. She is currently in her 12th season in the NWSL, and at 42 years old, she is the oldest player in the League. Prior to the NWSL’s inception, Barnhart played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) and Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). Last season, Barnhart appeared in seven total matches (all competitions), seeing 541 minutes of action. She tallied 26 saves – including one victory-clinching save in stoppage time against Angel City FC after subbing on for Aubrey Kingsbury – and one clean sheet across all competitions. She still holds the NWSL record for the most clean sheets in a career (52).  


Who is your soccer GOAT?

Personally, one of my favorites on the men’s side, one of the players I loved watching, was Peter Schmeichel. He was a Danish goalkeeper and played for Manchester United.  

Women’s side GOAT, it’s so tough. There are so many options, but I feel like I’ve got to put Marta up there.  


What is your favorite pizza topping?

I’m gluten free, so it’s tough. But I would say I do love prosciutto and artichokes on my pizzas.  


What is your favorite gluten-free treat?

One of the desserts that I make: I make strawberry shortcake that everyone loves. I make the biscuit, and then I put dairy-free yogurt and some fresh strawberries on it. Little honey, little cinnamon and then I make a homemade coconut whipped cream. They’re pretty dang good.  


What is your dream car?

My Volkswagen Jetta that I currently drive. (Laughs) I don’t know anything about cars.  


What was your first job before soccer? 

I feel like not a lot of people know this about me, but I love art. I grew up working in my aunt’s art studio on her farm. That was probably my favorite non-soccer job, but my first “real” job would be when I worked for Hallmark and restocked cards in stores. I did it in high school.  


What was your first soccer memory?  

Probably U-8, young enough when we all rotated in goal for a little tournament. I don’t know if it was one of my first games or not, but I got the ball, went to punt it and it went straight up in the air and came back down and I basically just caught it again. The ref just like looked at me – it was a young ref and he had no idea what to do – and I was like ‘whatever’ and I just carried on. Things have gone up from there.  


What was your favorite subject in school?

Art and gym. I always loved them both. I loved school and always loved the art side of things. Gym was always super competitive, and I naturally loved competing. 


What is an essential part of your daily routine?

I don’t know if I really have a morning routine. I just wake up, have my morning matcha, my breakfast and watch the news. Boring, but pretty much my morning routine. Other than that, I wouldn’t say I have that much routine in my day, in all honesty.  


Do you collect anything?

The thing I currently collect are Disney DVDs.  


What is your hidden talent?  

Staying on the art trend: drawing. I don’t think a lot of people know that I am an artist. Also, I took American Sign Language (ASL) in college, so I kind of know sign language. I’ve forgotten a lot of it but know enough to survive if I had to.  


What is the next trip on your bucket list?  

I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. One of my former college teammates who I am really close with, her family is from Greece. We always talked about whenever I retire from soccer we will go on a vacation there. I need to reach out and make sure that offer still stands (laughs). 


What is your favorite restaurant in the area?  

I don’t eat out a whole lot. I would say my go-to places that I repeat are this great bubble tea place, TeaDM. Then, in that same area, there is a little Vietnamese place called Bon Me Shack. I get stuff from there pretty often.  


What is your go-to home cooked meal?  

I make homemade sweet potato gnocchi which is really good – that has to be one.  

I make some mean ribs and wings, so that would be up there, too. I do them in the oven, broil them on both sides, get them a little bit brown and then I have a cookie sheet cover them and steam them for a little while at a lower temperature. Then, I uncover them, I make a homemade BBQ sauce, slather that on, and then cook it like another 20 minutes or so at a little bit higher temperature. Final step is to broil them just so they caramelize just a little bit.  


Where did you learn to cook?  

I’ve loved cooking, I was always the first to wake up in my household, so I had to learn to survive on my own and make food. I feel like since a young age, I’ve liked cooking. I even do a little cooking club with the team, currently. The club originated with Jordy (Jordan Baggett) and Cam (Biegalski). Now, it kind of turned into a cooking club with the rookies. This year we’ve done it with Lyza (Bosselmann), Court (Courtney Brown), her husband; Britt (Brittany Ratcliffe) came one day, and Lena (Silano) usually. I’ll host or we will go to someone else’s, but usually I organize it and show everyone how to make the meal. It’s a collective effort, though. We all do it. Two popular ones we’ve done together is Kung Pow Beef with coconut rice. And one of Lena’s favorites – she always requests it – is black bean chicken enchilada with an avocado crema.  


Did you play any other sports growing up?  

I played soccer, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. I gave up playing baseball to pursue my soccer career. It worked out alright. I was actually on All-Star teams for baseball, and they wanted to put me on higher up teams but they were like, ‘You got to make a decision because you can’t be missing if we are going to pick you for these teams.’ So, I chose soccer for that reason.  

I actually played part of a season of lacrosse at Stanford, as well. I wanted to play going in, but the soccer coach wouldn’t let me, so I was the lacrosse manager for the first four seasons and then after my fifth year of soccer eligibility, I played part of a season of lacrosse. Once I got paid by the National Team, they made me give up my eligibility, so I couldn’t play anymore, and I went back to being a manager. I was just starting to get my skills back after not touching a stick for years.  


What is a skill you have always wanted to learn?    

I’ve been trying to learn how to play the guitar for 20 years, does that count? I own two guitars. I have zero rhythm; I learned all the chords, but once I have to start strumming it goes downhill really quickly. I haven’t touched my guitar in probably 10 years.  

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