Anna Barry (right) and Eastern Connecticut State University women’s basketball coach Denise Bierly after Barry won the Bonnie J. Edmondson Female Sportsperson-of-the-Year. Barry, a 2018 graduate of RHAM High School, is a two-sport athlete at Eastern, excelling at both volleyball and basketball.
Anna Barry, a 2018 graduate of RHAM High School, was selected as Eastern Connecticut State University’s Bonnie J. Edmondson Female Sportsperson-of-the-Year.
Barry said the honor was a complete surprise and recalled her heart racing and hands shaking from the nerves of being named the recipient at the school’s athletic award ceremony on April 16.
“Conference awards are nice, but these are the people that I see every single day and they know me better as a person, so I think getting an award from Eastern means more to me,” Barry said of the recognition.
The annual award is named after Bonnie Edmondson, a former two-sport athlete that excelled in both track & field and
basketball at ECSU. Edmondson is a two-time All-American and a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
Each year, a student-athlete at Eastern who reflects Edmondson’s qualities of sportsmanship, teamwork, spirit and fair play is honored.
Like Edmondson, Barry is a multi-sport standout at the university, playing both volleyball and basketball at the school since 2018.
ECSU’s women’s basketball coach Denise Bierly said Barry encompasses everything the award stands for, saying the recognition was “well-deserved.”
“It’s not just about how great you are as an athlete, but it’s about how you are as a student and as a leader,” stated Bierly, who has been coaching at Eastern for nearly three decades. “[Anna] has always been about the team first and how we could be successful. She didn’t care if she scored two points and we won or she scored 42 and we won, she just wanted the team to win.”
Following all-state selections in both volleyball and basketball during her senior season at RHAM, Barry had multiple collegiate offers before opting to stay in Connecticut and play both sports for the Warriors in Willimantic.
Barry called choosing Eastern “probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made.”
“The school is fantastic and I couldn't picture myself at any other school,” added Barry, who said the location of the campus has allowed family and friends to continue to watch her play. “It’s been a very rewarding experience for sure.”
At Eastern, Barry expanded her game in both sports, continuing to thrive on the volleyball courts in the fall and basketball courts in the winter.
In March, she wrapped up her athletic career at Eastern, playing out her final basketball season where she finished as the school’s all-time leader in both total blocks (260) and blocks per game (2.4). She also finished as the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,446 points while shooting a blistering 53.6 from the field. The 6’0” multi-faceted forward also tied for the fourth-most rebounds (964) in program history.
Bierly said that Barry matured into a terrific all-around player because of her work ethic and willingness to challenge herself.
“Every year she got more comfortable with her leadership role and her confidence grew,” added Bierly. “She is at her best when she is aggressive, offensively and defensively.”
This past winter she took to her game to another level, earning a spot on the 2022/2023 Women's Basketball Coaches' Association (WBCA) Division III All-America Team, along with being selected as the Little East Conference (LEC) Player of the Year for a second straight season after averaging career-highs in both points (16.7) and rebounds (12.2).
The individual accolades were great, yet it was the team’s conference title during the 2019-2020 season that Barry said was the most memorable.
Rhode Island College (RIC) had defeated ECSU twice in the regular season before the Warriors bested the RIC in the LEC championship game. Barry, a sophomore at the time, posted 12 points, eight rebounds, and a pair of blocks in the championship triumph in Willimantic.
Bierly called Barry an “extension of the coaching staff” and said while Barry is tremendously skilled; it’s her humility and basketball IQ that makes her the total package.
“You would never know judging by her interaction with her coaches or teammates that she is an All-American. She is just one of the kids on the team,” added Bierly. “We are going to miss that. We will miss her play, but even more so will miss her leadership, her locker room demeanor, and her knowledge.”
Barry was equally impressive on the volleyball courts, earning the LEC Player of the Year and All-America Honorable
Mention this past fall. She finished her career with 1,331 kills, joining a rare group of college athletes that surpassed the 1,000-career mark in both basketball points and volleyball kills.
Barry admitted that it took her some time to adjust to the collegiate level. She said balancing her time between two sports — that would overlap between the fall and winter seasons — was tough at first, but by the time she was a senior she described the process as a “piece of cake.”
She said that Kiely and ECSU volleyball head coach Megan Silver-Droesch helped transition into collegiate athletics a smooth one and were tremendously influential in her development as a player.
Barry also credited longtime RHAM head coach Tim Guernsey for a strong work ethic.
“In high school we had tough practices and he turned me into the play that I am,” Barry said of Guernsey “He definitely prepared me for what it was like here.”
During her time at RHAM, Barry lived in both Andover and Hebron, making a major impact on the local athletic courts.
She helped the volleyball team win state championships in 2016 and 2017 and was instrumental as the basketball program secured their first state championship, winning the Class L title in 2018.
Whether it was high school or college sports, Barry said that playing has always provided an oasis for her.
“I think the thing that sports did the most was give me a distraction from whatever was going on in my life,” she recalled. “For about two hours a day I was completely engrossed with what I was doing on the court. If I had a test the next day, I wouldn't think about it or any personal issue that was going on would just disappear.”
Barry is finishing up her undergraduate degree in psychology at Eastern and will next attend Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) where she will work on a master’s degree in Student Development in Higher Education.
The long term goal is to become an academic advisor in college, preferably for a sports team.
Barry added that being in the athletic arena has taught her so many valuable lesson that she will take with her off the court.
“I learned a lot about myself,” she stated. “I learned about getting through adversity and working with people who I wouldn’t necessarily see outside of sports. It was about working together with a group of people towards one goal and putting all of our differences aside.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin