EDH Athlete of the Week: Sophia Barden

By: Matt Long
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Sophia Barden is inching her way closer to a world championship gold medal in baton twirling.

After qualifying for her first world championship meet a year ago, Barden came home from her second last month with silver and bronze medals. The junior at Oak Ridge High has been twirling baton since she was 5 years old. Barden, now 16, brought home the silver medal in 2-Baton and the bronze in Artistic Twirl from the World Baton Twirling Federation International Cup held in Porec, Croatia.

To make Team USA, Barden qualified at the 2016 U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships. In July, she won national titles in solo, dance twirl and strut, while competing in Madison, Wisconsin.

Barden is the daughter of Craig and Cynthia Barden of El Dorado Hills.


Folsom Telegraph: What are your hopes/plans for after finishing high school?

Sophia Barden: My plan is to go to college after high school and my hope is to make it into the Air Force Academy.


FT: Do sports run in your family?

SB: Yes, both my siblings play lacrosse. My younger sister is a little stud and my older brother is going to play in college. My dad was very athletic in high school and was a Marine Corps Officer after college. My mom was a league champion in track and field and a World Champion in baton twirling. 


FT: How did you get your start in twirling baton?

SB: My mom used to twirl when she was younger and introduced me to the sport when I was very young. She did so because I was a very hyper and energetic child and she wanted me to find something that would help train me to gain better focus.


FT: Do you remember anything from when you first started twirling and if so, what?

SB: I was so young that I don't have the best memories of when I first started twirling. The thing I have been reminded of, jokingly, by both my coach and my mom, is that in my first lesson with my coach, I had a very short attention span, and as the story goes, it was also a windy autumn day. A windy autumn days mean lots of leaves falling. Needless to say, I was more interested in catching the leaves than trying to catch my baton. So, for the majority of my first lesson, I leapt around chasing leaves rather than paying attention.


FT: Where has baton twirling taken you? How many different states/countries?

SB: I have gone to about 10 different states, and I have been outside of the country to the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and Croatia.


FT: What was it like to represent the USA at the world championships for the second consecutive year?

SB: It is an incredible opportunity to be able to represent the US in the world championships. I got to see all my competitors over the course of two years as we all see them improve and become more amazing athletes.


FT: Are you happy with your two medals and with how you did?

SB: Yes, I'm incredibly happy that I placed where I did, because I had not been expecting to place so highly among all the international athletes.


FT: What activities are you involved with at Oak Ridge?

SB: I play high school soccer and do track and field.


FT: What’s your favorite class at school and why?

SB:  My favorite class at school is my science class, AP Biology. I love exploring how life and organisms work through different kinds of laboratory experiments and interesting reads.


FT: Favorite Food?

SB: I love donuts.


FT: Favorite music?

SB: I like listening to today's alternative rock.


FT: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them?

SB: I have a cat that I got for my ninth birthday; he's white, fluffy and named Sky. I also have a puppy golden retriever that we rescued. She's a scaredy cat and runs away from Sky when he gets near her. 


FT: Do you have any interesting hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

SB: I love to read, write, and draw. I also love to watch Netflix whenever I can.


FT: What inspires you in sports?

SB: My mom and coaches inspire me to push myself and become the best I can in what I do. My competitors inspire me to be better, push harder to achieve my highest potential, and to win.


FT: What are your career goals? What job/profession are you interested in?

SB: After attending the Air Force Academy, my goal is to have a job in aviation or engineering. Another career path I am interested in is law and becoming an attorney.