2018-19 Male and Female Athletes of the Year: Kale and Saige Barnett

The Barnett twins shined for the Storm this season as Kale (left) was named the 2018-19 NewsTribune Male Athlete of the Year and Saige was named the 2018-19 NewsTribune Female Athlete of the Year.

MANLIUS — When you pull into Manlius Oil Company, you may see Kale Barnett outside painting or washing propane tanks, or polishing trucks.

If you go inside to get a bite to eat, you may see Saige Barnett in the kitchen.

“I never see him at work unless he comes in to make ice cream or get food,” Saige said. “It’s pretty separate — it’s just the same company and family friends that we work for. It’s different but just in the same location. I work inside in the kitchen and he’s outside polishing trucks and painting tanks. (If we were right by each other) we might be able to work together — some days probably and some days not.

“When we’re at home, we split up rooms and don’t really do chores together. Our house doesn’t get real messy, so we pick up our own stuff and we’re fine.”

Before the twins were holding their own at their summer job, they both shined for Bureau Valley on the sports stage during their senior year.

Kale made the NewsTribune 2018 Football All-Area Team by averaging 106.2 receiving yards per game and snagging three touchdowns in just six games. He was named the 2018-19 NT Basketball Player of the Year after leading the Storm to a Class 2A super-sectional with 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, four assists and three steals a game.

In the spring, he qualified for the boys track and field IHSA State Meet in both the long jump and the pole vault.

“I put everything into sports,” Kale said. “It’s always been sports, nonstop. It was day in and day out. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Not being here next year, I hope the younger kids look up to seniors like I did when I was an eighth grade or a freshman.”

Saige made an impact of her own.

In volleyball, she averaged 3.1 kills per set and made the 2018 NT Volleyball All-Area Second Team. She followed with being a first team basketball selection, averaging 16.3 points, 4.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game.

She capped her prep sports career with fourth-place medals in both the discus and the shot put at the girls track IHSA State Meet.

“I think that our family did a pretty good job of separating us,” Saige said. “We were always the twins and when we were little we hated that. We hated being called the twins. But we are, so it doesn’t matter. We had the same birthday party, but we had different cakes. For our graduation party, we got two different cards from everybody without saying anything.

“I think we’re seen separately. Then everyone’s like, ‘Oh, they’re twins.’ It’s like an afterthought. Sports bonded us, but we shined in our own way.”  

For their accomplishments, Kale Barnett is the 2018-19 NewsTribune Male Athlete of the Year and Saige Barnett is the 2018-19 NewsTribune Female Athlete of the Year.

Kale earned the male honor last year, and the Barnetts are the only Bureau Valley athletes to be named athlete of the year. They are the first set of twins to win and the second brother and sister, as La Salle-Peru graduates Brett Zawacki (2006-07) and Brittany Zawacki (2012-13) won the awards.

Not only have the Barnetts played sports together, had high school classes together and worked together, but they’re also taking the next journey in life together — college.

The brother and sister will both be on the Illinois State University campus this fall.

“It’s kind of inevitable to be together,” Kale said. “She picked ISU first. I worked at the gas station first. It just worked like that. It’s kind of weird, but we just end up together.

“Her being there played a part of choosing ISU. And some of my friends are going there, too. The visit was good. I liked the campus when we took a tour earlier in the year. She wanted to go and I just tagged along so I could get out of school. But, then I liked it.”

Kale plans to study biology, while Saige wants to become a teacher and coach by studying elementary education and coaching.

Neither of them are going to play sports for the Redbirds.

“I’ve always been looked at as the girl who plays sports,” Saige said. “I get most athletic in my class. I don’t want to be that girl anymore. I just want to be done and find out what else I can be good at and have a passion for.”

Kale agreed he is burnt out and wants to do something different in life.

“I’ve been playing since fifth grade,” Kale said. “Track has never really been my favorite. It’s a big commitment. You have to get up early every morning. I’m not saying I’m lazy, but it just seems like a lot and I’m a little burnt out. I want a break.”

Although, athletics won’t be in their future, the Barnetts will never forget their athletic careers.

Especially as Storm.

“Bureau Valley as a whole, I think we’re looked at as outsiders,” Saige said. “Our school and the sports is what bond our community. Last year at the boys basketball super-sectional against Winnebago (at BV), it was packed. There wasn’t any room to sit. The district was going through a tough time and 15 high school boys bonded the community by playing basketball.

“That’s what Bureau Valley is all about. It was a full house. You couldn’t even see any orange in the stands. It was all Bureau Valley fans. Even if they didn’t go to a single sporting event all year, they were there.”

Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or sports@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance. 

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