Central Catholic High School's Yani Johnson and Luke Barbier signed athletic scholarships to attend Nicholls State University during a ceremony at Central Catholic High School Wednesday. Johnson will play volleyball, while Barbier will join the Colonels baseball team. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Johnson, Barbier sign scholarships with Nicholls
Two Central Catholic High School standouts signed athletic scholarships with Nicholls State in volleyball and baseball, respectively during a signing ceremony at the high school Wednesday.
Yani Johnson will join the Colonels volleyball team as a right side hitter, while Luke Barbier will join Nicholls’ baseball team as a pitcher.
Johnson will continue to the next level after a decorated high school career.
She has earned Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association Division V All-State honors the past two years and is a three-time All-District 6-V selection.
She said the atmosphere of Nicholls’ campus is what drew her to Nicholls.
“Family-wise, everybody’s like family over there,” Johnson said. “I love the volleyball team. They’re all just energetic and made me feel welcomed.”
Johnson said the Colonels’ roster doesn’t have a lot of height beside her and current sophomore volleyball player Emily Gautreaux, so she feels like the two of them can do good things for the team.
The Central Catholic standout also said that the improvements the team made in first-year coach Kallie Noble’s initial season was a turning point for her.
She said she feels like next year she can come in and help the team win even more.
Central Catholic Coach Latashia Wise said that Johnson is a “phenomenal kid” who she has coached since the eighth grade.
“Yani has set many records at this school and it goes without saying that she’s a phenomenal athlete as well,” Wise said.
On the baseball diamond, Barbier also has stood out for the Eagles and now looks to do the same for the Colonels.
“The main reason on why I chose Nicholls was it was close to home, a family atmosphere, and I see myself in the pitching rotation and I can play right away,” said Barbier, whose brother Bryson was a member of the Colonels for a time.
As a junior in high school, Barbier earned Louisiana Coaches Association Class 1A All-State honors and also was an honorable mention Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 1A baseball selection.
He finished his junior year with an 8-3 mark and a 2.78 ERA with 56 strikeouts.
Barbier has been a first-team All-District 8-1A selection as a pitcher the past two years and earned honorable mention honors in 2017.
“Luke’s worked really hard for a number of years,” Central Catholic coach Tyler Jensen said. “I remember when I coached (Barbier’s brothers) Bryson and Matthew, Luke was always around and he saw their work ethic and he worked really hard.”
Barbier said he has been told he will be a starter for the Colonels.
“They told me I’d be a starter, whether it’s weekday, weekend, it really didn’t matter to me as long as I could get some playing time my freshman year, just get that experience and maturing as a freshman,” Barbier said. “Just looking forward to playing right away.”
Jensen also thinks that Barbier will see playing time his freshman year.
“I think he’ll pitch right away,” Jensen said. “He is the definition of a pitcher. He can work balls in and out. He can change speeds. I think because he’s been a small guy over the years, people just assumed he’s all about location, but his velocity’s come a long way. He’s grown and gotten stronger.”