Sarah Barlow

Meet Sarah

My name is Sarah Barlow and I'm from Bathurst. I'm hearing impaired, well deaf actually. I have cochlear implants that let me hear. I think for me, sport is a really good outlet because I don't have to concentrate on what people are saying and that kind of thing. Because I'm quite visual and spatially aware as a result of being hearing impaired, sport seems to come naturally to me. I play sport because it’s so social, it's always good company and I have really good mates, but also for the fitness. I study design and education and am looking to become an art teacher.

She was never going to let anything get in the way of playing sport

When I was in kindergarten I actually really wanted to play hockey, but I wasn't allowed to because I could get hit in the head, which would be a problem with my cochlear implants. Mum got me into playing soccer, and I still play to this day. I was on a team with all boys, except me and this one other girl. We were on that team for years, and we were so determined never to let the boys take over. We made sure we always had a decent position in the team. I played a bit of netball as well, but that was more to be with my friends.

My dad had been cycling for quite a few years and he was very keen on making the rest of the family passionate about cycling. I had cycled on and off for a few years, partly because I had a lot of other commitments and was trying to balance everything out, but also because I was cycling with my parents age group, which wasn’t as fun as being with people your own age. When I came back from my gap year though, I found I really loved cycling. It just sort of came to me and I loved it. I went four times a week and rode 50-60 kilometers each time.

It's so spatial out in Bathurst and traffic is non-existent so it's great cycling there. I think the main reason I loved it so much was the social side. When you're cycling you're socialising the whole time; you talk to the person next to you and you're constantly moving around in the peloton so you always get to talk to new people. I do sometimes struggle to hear people when it's windy or whatever, but Bathurst is just such a scenic place that I loved it anyway.

Then the best part was the coffee's afterwards. You always go to the café, have a coffee and a hot breakfast if you feel like it. It's so good.

I played soccer when I came to UNSW, and cycling sort of died off a bit last year. I picked it up again this year and I think it's awesome- such a great bunch of people. I'm still part of the USNW Soccer Club as well, plus I do stuff with the UNSW Outdoor Club as well. I fill my time up with lots of activities!

For Sarah, uni and sport come together very naturally

Because I do very intense practical projects for my degree, I spend a lot of hours sitting in a chair making things. I honestly hate it and have a lot of neck and back problems if I stay in a chair for too long.

I think sport forces you to get out of the chair and freshen your mind. That's the biggest thing to be honest, you come back and are refreshed and ready to get back into it and do your work. Yes it might seem like it's an hour or two out of your time, but you come back and you're more efficient. I definitely find that I work better and get more done if I spend time outside as well as at my desk.

I certainly wouldn't have met all the people I have if I didn’t play sport. I'm playing soccer for the second year and I think it's a fantastic team. I could have moved up to a higher team but I said no because I actually really like these people. I want to get to know them better and spend more time with them. Coming from a country town, I think it's a lot harder to meet a lot of people when you start at uni, so sport is a really good way to engage with people.

I think the biggest thing to remember about starting something new is not to worry about your ability to do things. Definitely give it your best, but don't compare yourself to anyone else. Just do the best you can and have fun. Talk to people, socialise, embrace it and work from there. Once you've built some confidence in your relationships with the people, everything else just comes along with it. We’re always looking for more women to try cycling, so feel free to come and join us!