For college athletes, the sports they play are their passion, their motivation, their way of life. The sport of men’s soccer has been all that and more for senior, Hunter Barone
Soccer has taught so much to the veteran player as he continues to grow as a person and as a player. Barone believes there are many lessons over the years that have not only helped him on the field, but off of it as well.
“I think the lessons I’ve learned translate well, the leadership stuff helps a lot. All through my life I’ve been kind of a hothead, so soccer has helped me work on being patient and understanding that sometimes things might not go your way,” Barone said.
A big learning moment for Barone in his years at Michigan State started when he was freshman. Playing for the Spartans would also mean a decrease in playing time, which is something that he wasn’t used to.
With so many older guys in front of him, Barone had to become comfortable not starting every game. Using some of that newly found patience, he looked on the brighter side of things and made the best of his situation.
“It was hard at first because all throughout my life I was one of the best players on my team so at first not starting was hard. Just mentally I had to stay positive and work on getting myself better every day,” Barone said. “The work I put in and just trying to focus and get better at one thing one day at a time helped a lot.”
Just as the sport itself has offered so much to Barone, the Michigan State program has only made it more special.
Michigan State has become a home away from home for Barone and helped him find a second family in his teammates and coaches. He believes playing soccer for the Spartans has given him something extraordinary that most places could not have.
“I always say this, but I think there is no closer team than we have here and even throughout all four years I’ve been here, it hasn’t changed. No matter what leaders have left, what group of people have left or no matter what group of people have come, it’s always been a very strong, family-oriented team,” said Barone who not only has the family feel of the team, but also a family member as a teammate in brother, Giuseppe.
Just like a family, they are always there for one another and support each other through the ups and downs that come with playing in the Big Ten.
On top of all the other lessons he has learned from playing soccer, being on a team as close as this one has taught Barone and his fellow Spartans how to handle the tough situations they face on a daily basis.
“I think that once something goes wrong, for some teams it might be easy to kind of fall apart. Since we’re such a close team, I think that if somebody has a bad game, someone is going to pick them up,” Barone said. “If we go through something as a team, being all together helps us not fall apart and even after a loss, kind of raise a level.”
With his final season at Michigan State coming to a close, Barone begins to cherish all the memories he has made and the moments he has left.
“It’s meant a lot to me. Coming in here, I kind of feel like I was a boy and now I’m leaving a man so that helped me grow a lot as a player, but even more so as a person,” Barone said.
His passion for Michigan State grew as hard and as fast as it did for soccer in the first moments he touched a field.
Barone, who was once just a young boy that fell in love with soccer, is now in his senior year of college and is making the most of his last season. He hopes this does not mean the end for him and the sport that opened up a world of possibilities.
“Soccer has done a lot for me. I don’t know where I would be without it. I don’t know what I’m going to do after either, but up to this it’s driven my whole life,” Barone said. “It’s everything that I’ve put focus into, what’s gotten me to school, through school, so it’s just really done everything for me throughout my life so far.”