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Keaton Barley: High School Wrestler-Holiday Working Youth

MADISON – The hard work by a high school athlete is something that will last a lifetime for most as the dedication can mold their future in life. Like many athletes, Keaton Barley of Sparkman High also works part time hours at a job in attempt to earn extra money. For the sophomore wrestler for the Senators, the teenager took it upon himself to work many hours during the recent Christmas holiday at IHOP in Madison and showed the actions of today’s youth can be more than video games and chatting on their electronic devices.

“I’m looking to earn money to help buy a car,” said Barley, who turned 16 during the holiday season. “I believe making a purchase with your own hard-earned money makes you more responsible and respectable with your own property.”

Barley is a varsity wrestler for the Senators in the 120-pound weight class. This is his first year at the sport he took up just five months ago and currently carries a 6-9 record. He has always liked active sports like boxing and the other fighting arenas. He heard about the wrestling team and the possibility of earning a college scholarship through the sport, so he decided to try out for the program and according to Barley, “I fell in love with it.”

Since taking to the mats under the guidance of head coach Ronnie Watson, Barley has learned the sport is full of constant energy and presents a positive atmosphere for every participant. He said since his arrival on the team he has learned massive amounts of discipline, which has carried over to his willingness to go to work when he can, along with his schoolwork and wrestling endeavor.

The son of Tiffany Gonzalez and Barry Barley, the 5-foot-6, 120-pound athlete began working at Dairy Queen after his cousin helped him get hired. His assigned work hours began to fade so a friend of his helped him get hired at IHOP the first of November. He worked as a busboy for three weeks before being promoted to server. His work schedule included working Christmas Eve until around midnight and Christmas Day beginning the next morning and lasting through much of the day. Due to his wanting to work, he spent little time with family at Christmas.

“I’m dedicated to my sport, but I need to earn money to help my parents buy my car,” said Barley. “I’ve already picked out a used 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’m taking Driver’s Ed this semester at school and when I complete the course I’ll have my driver’s license and then look to buying my car.”

During the busy holiday period, IHOP actually employed several of Barley’s friends and the group worked together like a team helping one another when the situation arose. He said his immediate boss at the restaurant is really great to work for and even attended one of his wrestling matches in show of support.

Barley earns a small hourly rate of pay, but gets to keep 100-percent of his tips. He saves 90-percent of the money he earns. One of his customers was a small group of businessmen who were dressed in their business suits. “One of them told me I did an outstanding job and handed me a $100 bill. I was surprised to say the least,” added Barley. “I was also shocked to find out the group added a $50 tip on their bill payment. I’ve also had one person who did not tip me at all and just left without saying anything.”

Just like on the wrestling mat against an opponent, Barley keeps his concentration level on what’s in front of him while serving customers. His strong discipline and great upbringing from his parents and step-father, Jason Gonzalez, has taught him to bite his tongue at times when he would love to speak to unruly customers. He added, “I always keep a positive energy while I’m serving as some of that comes from wrestling.”

On the wrestling team, Barley has earned the nickname “Skittles” for his love for the fruit-flavored candy. At IHOP, he has the nickname of “Perm” for his naturally curly locks upon his head.

Barley looks to his high school experience to what will shape his future life and has a message for others his age.

Keaton Barley: High School Wrestler-Hard Working Youth“You’re not getting paid to sit around and play video games and hours spent on your phones,” said Barley. “Do something with your time that will give you a responsibility mindset.”

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