NAPERVILLE, Ill. (BVM) — Naperville North has seen multiple graduates of its school go on to play soccer at Indiana University. In 2023, current Huskies’ standout Alex Barger will be the next to join the powerhouse program to the east.
Barger is an all-around athlete. During his middle school years, he competed in each of soccer, basketball, swimming, water polo, baseball, track and cross country. However, soccer eventually came to the forefront for the Illinois native.
“I have a super competitive family and while soccer may not run in it, my parents and my brother have always strived to be at the top of the food chain,” Barger said. “I’ve loved being able to compete, soccer has been the sport I’ve dominated the most in and that I love the most.”
Throughout his career, Barger has been a versatile player, playing left wing, midfield and left back during his time on the pitch. A large portion of that experience has come from his club team, Evolution Soccer, based in Naperville, Illinois.
Not only has Evolution helped develop Barger’s game, but it has also helped him gain national exposure since his middle school years.
“My coach along with my teammates have been working wonders with getting my name out there,” Barger noted. “It’s just been an amazing experience.”
At the same time as his club career was taking off, Barger began attending college camps, most notably at Indiana. From eighth grade on, the Naperville North junior has been intrigued by a future with the Hoosiers, and just a few weeks ago, the dream became a reality.
“I’ve been going to Indiana summer camps since seventh or eighth grade,” Barger said. “The place has always fascinated me. The camps were just awesome, the coaches there were awesome, the players there were awesome. I knew that Indiana was a top-tier program and it was a dream of mine to get into such a high-caliber program. I was at a loss for words when I initially heard my offer.”
While Indiana seemed like the logical landing spot, Barger also had interest in DePaul, Loyola Chicago, Syracuse, Northern Illinois and Yale among others. However, Barger’s love for the Hoosiers’ program prevailed, as he officially committed to Indiana at the end of last month.
I am honored to announce that I have verbally committed to continue my academic and soccer career at Indiana University. I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, family and friends for the continued support. Go Hoosiers! 🔴⚪️@NNHuskiesoccer @Evolution_SC14 @IndianaMSOC #GoIU pic.twitter.com/g8AG0JplOu
— Alex Barger (@AlexBarger11) September 19, 2021
“On my official visit with them, I got pulled aside before I was about to head out,” Barger said. “They posed the offer to me, and my mom, my dad and I were just shocked. Indiana was my dream school and my dream was so close to being fulfilled. It was just an amazing experience, emotional for my parents as well as myself. I was super excited to hear that and that day I accepted the offer, I was super pumped up. It was amazing to know that I was going to be a Hoosier.”
Barger was sold on the Hoosiers for some time, but there were plenty of additional reasons that led the soccer star to want to play under Coach Todd Yeagley.
“There was a wide variety of things,” Barger mentioned. “They have a successful soccer program, a successful academics program, it’s not too close to home but not too far as well, and I love the weather in the Midwest. I really like the vibe at Indiana. You have a beautiful campus and it really made me feel at home. At the end of the day, that’s what got me settled and I was honored to accept the offer from them.”
The Indiana men’s soccer program continues to be a powerhouse nationally, reaching the College Cup in three of its last four seasons. Historically, they have also had a strong connection to Barger’s high school at Naperville North.
Joshua Penn went on to play at Indiana after graduating from Naperville North in 2019, while 2002 grad Brian Plotkin did the same. Class of 1988 star Bill Fleck also played for the Hoosiers, and is a former high school teammate of Barger’s current coach, Jim Konrad.
“Konrad has had players go through that have played at IU and he’s had lots of other Division I, Division II and Division III talents,” Barger noted. “During my recruiting process, he was constantly making sure everything went as smoothly as it could along with my club coach.”
At Naperville North, Barger holds a weighted GPA of 4.07. He is dedicated to his work in the classroom despite being a standout athlete, and he will look to continue his off-field success at IU.
“When you look at the word student-athlete, student comes first, and I heavily side with that,” Barger added. “Having above a 4.0 GPA just shows a lot of my hard work I’ve been putting in, and I’m going to have to earn what I can get at Indiana. In the classroom I stay focused as well as on the soccer field. I think those two pair very well together.”
Barger may be one of several who has come from Naperville North to play Division I men’s college soccer. After his time as a Hoosier, he hopes he can be one of the many who has played at Indiana and gone on to a professional career.
“It’s another dream of mine to play professional soccer,” Barger said. “I think IU has the right tools for that. They’ve produced many, many talented players that go into the league. It’d be super special for me, but I have to put a lot of work in. Obviously today, if you put me in there, I wouldn’t look like an MLS player. But I hope with the rest of my junior year, my senior year and my years at IU, I can develop into a player that can ultimately compete in some of those games at the highest level.”
While he may not be MLS-ready today, Barger continues to show he has that kind of potential at Naperville North. After a learning curve in his freshman year that he adapted to well, Barger became a full-time varsity starter.
By his sophomore year, Barger was already tasked to become a leader for the Huskies. He thrived in that role then, and has continued to through his junior season, becoming a team captain with both his high school and club teams.
“I just like to make sure that things are in place and that we can succeed the best,” Barger said. “I didn’t wear the captain band my sophomore year, but I treated it like I was wearing it.”
An all-state player as a sophomore who scored 13 goals and had seven assists, Barger continues to display exceptional skill this fall in his junior campaign. By the end of the year, the 16-year-old would love to have a chance to compete for an IHSA state championship.
The team goal remains the same for Barger and the Huskies during his senior year in 2022. Winning will also be at the forefront once the soccer star reaches IU and beyond. But also important to Barger is leaving a legacy for those coming in behind him, and he continues to do so day in and day out.
“I hope I can be a player that some of the incoming Naperville Huskies look up to,” Barger said. “At the end of the day, it’s everyone leading the team, so I wouldn’t want to take anything away from anyone else. I just hope the Huskies in the future can look up to our team and say, ‘I want to be like them.’”