April 19, 2021
KANSAS CITY, Mo.— History-making. That is what most would say of Sydney Barber, the United States Naval Academy’s first African American female Brigade Commander and the 16th woman to hold the leadership role since 1976. Being appointed Brigade Commander is a high honor; it is the highest leadership position within the Brigade. But the phrase that comes to mind for Kirby Myers, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Campus Director at the Naval Academy, when it comes to the mechanical engineering major and track star is “all in.”
“Sydney has a love for Jesus Christ, a love for others and a love for God’s Word,” said Myers, who first met Barber when she started coming to FCA Huddle meetings as a freshman. “I was really impressed by her humility and her kindness. It was evident to me that she knew Christ as her Lord and Savior because of the joy that was in her heart.”
Originally from Lake Forest, Illinois, Barber enrolled in the Naval Academy (USNA) after recognizing that her father’s character, selfless devotion to service, and passionate pursuit of the Kingdom stemmed in part from his own time at USNA. As a freshman and member of the track team, she began attending Tuesday night FCA Huddles – a certified small group bible study/devotion for coaches and athletes – with her friends, and, according to Myers, never stopped coming or bringing other athletes with her.
At every turn during her time at the Naval Academy, Barber has shown just how special she truly is. In 2019, she earned second-team All-Patriot League honors as a sophomore—a remarkable achievement considering she walked on to the team. In spring 2020, she accepted the role of serving as the campus FCA co-president just months before she was chosen to become the Brigade Commander. This is all on top of holding leadership positions in a handful of other clubs and organizations and maintaining high academic standards. For Barber though, it is about making a difference now and leaving a legacy for the future. She hopes to be known not only for the historical significance of being a “first,” but as a source of light during a difficult time in history.
“It is vitally important for me to ‘pursue’ a godly life as Paul describes because like Paul and all of the other apostles, I can only be the best leader that I can be if the spirit of the Lord is working in and through me in all that I do,” stated Barber. “I am only a vessel for His name to be glorified. God only expands my platform of outreach in order to expand my capacity to glorify His Kingdom. I reflect on this constantly and make sure that I keep Him on the throne of my heart as He continues to grant me with more responsibilities within His Kingdom.
“The way that I see it, the gift of every blessing that God has given me is only meant to be used to glorify Him all the more,” continued Barber. “However, in order to ensure that my actions are truly God-honoring, I need to be acutely in tune with Him, understanding where He is guiding me and what He is using me to do.”
Barber has a road map of sorts that she created to personally pursue Christ. “On my bulletin board, I have written ‘The Four Pillars of My Life Sustainment: Food, Sleep, Exercise and Faith.’ To me, pursuing Christ in my daily life is not a matter of feeling good from one day to the next, but a matter of survival. He is my daily bread. Every morning, I begin my day in prayer and devotion with Him, and every night, I end my day reflecting on the moments when He made His presence known to me in that day. Throughout the day, I am in constant dialogue with the Lord, praying in my head as I step through each moment. I have come to recognize that I simply will not be able to sustain any fruitful life as a surface-level Christian. I need to be abiding in Christ every moment from start to finish.”
FCA’s theme for 2021 is Pursue, which is based on the verse 1 Timothy 6:11: “Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” FCA encourages its members to pursue God utilizing His Word as an anchor, grounding Christians as they look to His Kingdom.
To interview a Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.