Monday, February 06, 2012


Versatile DL Brings Stability to Soul Defense, Philadelphia Community

By Vaughn Johnson
Special to

Players in the Arena Football League wear multiple hats.  Aside from partaking in a grueling 18-game schedule over the course of 20 weeks as professional football players, most, if not all, are very active in other lines of work during the offseason.

Philadelphia Soul defensive lineman Dustin Barno is no different.

Barno is a native of nearby Easton, PA and currently lives in Philadelphia.

Barno is an accomplished football player. He has played in the National Football League for the Tennessee Titans, played for the AFL’s Arizona Rattlers, Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz and won an ArenaBowl title with the Colorado Crush in 2005.

While in college at nearby East Stroudsburg, Barno was named first team All-PSAC twice in 2001 and 2002.

In 2011, Dustin recorded 5.5 sacks in 14 games as a starter for the Soul.

Barno is known as a versatile player who can play a multitude of positions in the AFL.

“Dustin is a guy that has so much flexibility,” Soul head coach Doug Plank said. “You can put him in so many different positions.  He is clearly a strong presence on the defensive line, but we have the ability to line him up at nose guard or as an edge rusher.”

Plank stressed that most teams that he has been around that have been successful in the AFL have had versatile players on the roster.

“He’s somebody that could be a pass rusher and play offensive line when we need him to,” Plank added of Barno.  “There’s just so many things that he can do that we’re excited about having his skill set and what he can bring to the Soul.”

Barno can be versatile in more than just football, however.

When Barno is done pushing offensive lineman around on the gridiron, he pushes people in a different way in his other line of work.

Barno also works for the Philadelphia school district, motivating students in the city to stay in school and stay on the track of success.

“I just wanted to make a difference,” Barno said. “I have little nephews and I always want to try to do what’s best for them.”    

He also works for two non-profit organizations called CATCH and Kaleidoscope, helping people who have physical and mental disabilities.

More specifically, Dustin works with an autistic adult as what Dustin described as a “life coach.”  He helps the adult learn different life and communication skills such as cooking and talking to people.

Much like trying to sack the AFL’s best quarterbacks, accomplishing the goal is hard work, but Dustin sees it as a job that has its share of benefits for everyone involved.

“It is difficult at times,” Barno said. “A lot of patience is required, but I think at the end of the day it is very rewarding.  To think you’re making a difference in someone’s life, I think that it’s probably the best part of it.”

The lessons of hard work and dedication he learns from working with people in the Philadelphia community, he takes onto the field every week as a member of the Soul.

“Just constantly working towards a goal and coming to work every day and doing what you’re supposed to do and doing what’s asked of you, to put in a little bit extra,” Barno said.  “I think that’s the difference between someone that can do it and someone that can’t.”

Selfless players like Dustin are always an essential part of team sports and Arena Football is no different.

“You can never have too many high-character players on your team,” said Soul general manager Tom Goodhines.  “That’s really what team sports are all about – the more leaders you get, the better your team will be.  Dustin is one of those leaders and we are glad to have him on our side.”

The Philadelphia Soul have high expectations going into the 2012 season.  The team has signed some of the League’s top talent, including Barno, with one goal in mind, to win ArenaBowl XXV.

Dustin, however, also has goals that stretch beyond the gridiron and his career off the field.

“I do like the ‘hands on’ part of being in the field and making a direct connection,” Barno said.  “But I would like to take it to the next level by pursuing an administrator role and make a difference on the operations part of it.”

But the ultimate goal is to make sure that he can change at least one person’s life for the better.

“If I can make a difference in one person’s life, that’s the biggest thing,” Dustin said.  “The personal goals aren’t really there.  It’s just being able to help out.”

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