Often in life opportunities come along unexpectedly. That was the case for Belgrade’s Vada Barkell.
The senior had planned to throw the javelin for the track and field team at the University of Providence in Great Falls until a couple of weeks ago. That’s when Argos volleyball coach Arunas Duda came calling.
“They offered me to throw javelin in track and I thought that was a good opportunity because I always to do sports in college,” said Barkell. “Two weeks ago he called me and asked if I wanted to play volleyball because the opening for a DS came up. And I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’ Because I like volleyball way more than track.”
Barkell signed her letter of intent Wednesday and joins teammates Bailey and Taylor Christensen as recent signees. Barkell plans to room with Bailey this fall, while Taylor will be a member of the 2020 recruiting class.
“I’m so excited, so excited,” said Barkell. “They’re such a good family. Glad to be around them.”
Barkell helped the Panthers reach back-to-back state Class A championship matches coming off the bench as a defensive specialist. Belgrade posted a program record 30 victories this past season en route to finishing as the state runner up.
In addition to relishing the chance to continue playing with the Christensen’s, Barkell was drawn to playing for Duda.
“Their coach, he’s so nice,” Barkell said. “And everyone on the team is super nice.”
Duda coached all three girls during a club tournament a year ago and it was an experience that resonated with Barkell.
“He’s very encouraging,” she said. “So if you do something bad he told us to forget it and gives us feedback on what we can do better every time.”
Duda guided the Argos to a 23-11 record this past season as the program made its first-ever appearance in the NAIA National Championships.
The Argos also won the Frontier Conference Tournament Championship for the first time in program history, upsetting top-seeded Rocky Mountain College in the championship match. Providence was ranked 17th in country entering the national tournament.
Barkell plans to study nursing and finally breathed a sigh of relief after signing her letter.
“Been stressing about it for a while,” she said.