I’ve recently had the privilege of interviewing professional football kicker for The Bismarck Bucks. In the Indoor Football League, he’s number 23 in your programs, but will be number one in your hearts, Cody Barber.
I promise you, his story is a very inspirational one.
Cody Barber was a once promising soccer player and had many great things lined up for him, until one day on Christmas morning he had a freak accident and got shot in the eye with a paintball gun. He was permanently blinded in that eye and never played soccer again. But Cody didn’t let it stop him from pursuing his dreams of being a professional athlete. He decided he wanted to be a kicker, and despite having many people telling him to give up and dealing with bullying, negative energy, and the obstacles, he kept on training.
For those of you who don’t know, your vision affects your balance and depth perception.
Cody Barber made the high school football team and was kicker for the Coolidge High School Bears. He was a part of three State Finals teams, and two State Championship Teams, and was an Allstate Kicker his senior year. He didn’t let his dreams stop there; he played on several semi-professional teams for a few years and tried out for arena football teams
Despite being blind in his left eye, he can kick 50+ yard field goals on goal posts that are half the length of NFL college and high school posts, with his personal best being 54-yard field goals.He eventually tried out for the IFL, the Indoor Football League, a professional indoor arena football league. Cody has played for the Iowa Barnstormers, The Green Bay Blizzard, and is currently with the Bismarck Bucks.
Cody has dealt with a lot leading to his career as a professional football kicker, but he never let any the negativity that hurt deter him. These obstacles fueled him to keep working harder on and off the field. Cody has been a great role model to many children across the country and especially in his community.
Nate Wren: What are some of the obstacles you’ve had during your football career?
Cody Barber: Getting tryouts, the traveling to them, and finding places to stay when I was trying out. I’ve stayed on couches, in basements and on floors sometimes. Then drive several hours away to practice and living on Cups of Noodles just for the opportunity to try and kick for a team just for a season.
Nate Wren: What kept you going during your struggles?
Cody Barber: It was really tough at times. I was just really struggling and doing everything I can. The pressure was high and the stress took a toll on me. I gave everything my all I just had to make the team. So many people were counting on me. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to make the team and keep playing at higher levels of professional football so I can give my kids a better life and better opportunities.
Nate Wren: Who have been some of your biggest supporters?
Cody Barber: Definitely my Grandmothers, Dee and Dixie. My Grandma Dixie helped me get to places I needed to stay for the tryouts and training camps. She really helped me out a lot. I don’t know where I’d be without her.
Nate Wren: When you made the teams did things get easier?
Cody Barber: Yes and no. I was getting paid to play the game I love but I was still having to find places to stay. Sometimes I’d be having to stay on couches of teammates.
Nate Wren: What’s your favorite jersey number out of all the numbers you’ve had?
Cody Barber: Number 23 became I wanted to be the Michael Jordan of kickers.
Nate Wren: Are you doing better now than you were a few years ago?
Cody Barber: Yeah, I’m very fortunate to be a part of the Bismarck Bucks in The Indoor Football League. I have some great coaches and teammates and I love how great and loyal our fans are.
Nate Wren: What’s your goal in the next year or two?
Cody Barber: Playing in the NFL, CFL or XFL.
Nate Wren: What are some of your favorite things to do besides football?
Cody Barber: I really love coaching and volunteering and helping the youth in my community. I feel If I can reach at least one or a few kids it will make a difference in the world. I love spending time with my family and friends.
Nate Wren: Is there any advice you’d like to give young athletes?
Cody Barber: Focus on your schoolwork and grades and go to college and learn something. Always have a backup plan because things don’t always work out the way you want them to. I’ve learned the hard way and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
Nate Wren: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Cody Barber: Yeah, my grandma Dixie. My kids and two big ones for 2021. And my good friend Julio who passed away in October, and my Uncle Mike, those two are who I am dedicating my season too!