Ashley Barron: Hoboken Native, Softball Star, + Hoboken Firefighter

March is Women’s History Month and we would be remiss to not highlight some of the local women who have made history of their own, paving the way for the next generations of girls. Among these incredible women is Ashley Barron, a BNR Hobokenite, Hudson County softball star, mother, and the Hoboken Fire Department’s third female firefighter. Read on to learn about Ashley’s life growing up in Hoboken, joining the department, and her hopes to inspire little girls to understand that they could do anything they aspire to.

About Ashley

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Ashley Barron is a 28-years-old single-mother who was born and raised in Hoboken. Ashley graduated as Salutatorian of Hoboken High School’s 2010 graduating class, completed two years of college at Penn State Hazleton, and finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Education at NJCU. 

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she gave herself six months to find a full-time job or she would go back for my Master’s.” Life had a funny way of working out. I winded up employed and starting my Master’s Degree the same day! I now have a Master’s Degree from NJCU in Health Administration and am a firefighter for the Hoboken Fire Department,” Ashley told Hoboken Girl.

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“I am a mom to the best little five-year-old girl in the world, Haylee Mae. She keeps me on my toes and has been my biggest motivation through my journey to becoming a firefighter,” said Ashley.

Growing Up in Hoboken

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Her parents JoAnn and Danny Barron are both lifelong Hoboken residents and well-known in the community. JoAnn works for the City of Hoboken as an Assistant Tax Collector, and Danny works for the Hoboken Board of Education as a Computer Technician. Ashley is the older sibling of Danny who is a Hoboken Police Officer, Nicole, and Taylor.

As all BNR Hobokenites can attest to, there’s nothing like growing up in a small town like the Mile Square. “I truly feel like growing up in Hoboken is different than anywhere else in the world. I feel like the term ‘close-knit’ is the best way to explain how Hoboken used to be. Everyone knew everyone. You went to school with the same kids from pre-k until 12th grade. Every time I went outside I would run into someone that I knew. I have always been proud to be from this tiny little town. I love introducing new people to my hometown and am extremely blessed that I have been able to grow up here and now have a lifelong career serving this town that I love so much,” Ashley shared.

Read More: Hoboken Legend Maria Pepe: One of The First Girls to Play Little League Baseball

Her Softball Legacy

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“When I was seven or eight, my older cousin was trying out for the softball league in town so my mom sent me too. At the time, I was obsessed with basketball and was only playing softball because it seemed like the sport everyone was getting into. I had no idea that softball would become my first love and a sport that I devoted so much time to,” Ashley explains. 

For many, sports were an escape, and that was true for Ashley as well. “Softball was my escape from everything. I put in so much time at lessons or at practice. My summers, my weekends, they were always devoted to softball. As I got older, I started going to the field to play with my friends. Little did I realize we were practicing the whole time, but to me, it was just fun. Playing softball taught me how to be independent, how to become a leader, how to push myself outside my comfort zone, and gave me countless life lessons that I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else. I truly devoted almost all of my free time to this sport and I would do it all over again if I could.”

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Ashley quickly became a star softball player not only in Hoboken but in the county. She was often pictured in the local newspapers. Like a true athlete, she could play any position, but she made waves as a pitcher and catcher. She received several All-County and All-State softball awards in High School. 

“One of my greatest accomplishments was being the first Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year from Hoboken High School in 2010. The award wasn’t a new one but there was just something about being the first female from Hoboken High that really just made me feel like all the hard work and dedication that I put into my sports in and out of school really paid off,” she proudly shared.

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Her softball career didn’t stop after high school, her unwavering passion for the sport would lead her to new heights. “I was told when I was a teenager that I would make a good coach one day, and I think just hearing that one time really stuck with me. I wanted to become someone that pushed younger girls to be the best version of themselves. I wanted to teach hard work and dedication with discipline. I wanted to be the coach that players remembered when they got older for someone who made a positive impact in their lives, Ashley said. 

Ashley has coached Hoboken recreational teams, RBI travel teams, and the Hoboken High School softball team {and lead them to win championships}. “I absolutely love coaching! There is no word to describe a player’s face when they finally master a skill or when they finally get something they have been working so hard to achieve, it’s a great feeling.”

Joining the Hoboken Fire Department

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As a young girl, Ashley wanted to be a hairstylist, a doctor, or a chef. However, as she got older, she felt a strong desire to help people. 

“I remember being in high school and saying, I don’t know what I want to be for the rest of my life, but I know I want to help people. As a teenager, I used to love doing community service. I always wanted a career that made me feel like I was fulfilling my purpose and I finally feel like I have found that.”

“I had some tough years before becoming a firefighter, and I never felt like I was where I was supposed to be. Now, I cannot imagine myself anywhere else. It feels right,” Ashley said.

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It wasn’t easy prepping to joining the fire department. There’s a lot of mental and physical work that goes into preparing yourself for the job. Ashely explains, “After having a baby I really let myself go. Training for the firefighter test was not easy but I had my mom and sisters who would workout with me and I worked with a few great trainers along the way. I had never had to push myself so hard for anything else that I have wanted in life, but every single second was worth it.”

Ashely was sworn into the Hoboken Fire Department just on March 23, 2020, just as the global COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. She is now the third female firefighter in Hoboken’s history.

See More: The Life of Longtime Hoboken Resident, Michael Johnson

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Fire departments are known for comradery and friendship, something Ashley has discovered firsthand. “My favorite part about being a firefighter so far is driving! I have never driven a truck before this, but I feel like it is something I am good at, and my daughter finds it exciting. I also have to say though, the guys and captains I work with have made my time with the department a great experience. They help me with anything I need, even if I ask them the same question multiple times. I have learned so much from all of them and I am truly blessed to be with such a great group of people.”

“My career so far has only taken place during COVID-19 so I haven’t gotten to experience this job outside the virus yet,” she points out.

Inspiring Younger Generations

“Being the third female firefighter in the department is truly an amazing accomplishment to me. During my time training, I just kept telling myself that if there are women who have done this before me then I can do this! Captain Peggy Diaz and Battalion Chief Audra Carter were a huge inspiration to me during my journey, and I hope to be an inspiration for future females that come into the department,” she said.

“I hope that my being a firefighter shows young girls {including the ones I’ve coached} that anything in life is possible. There is no such thing as something being too far of a reach if you are willing to work hard for it. If I can do it then any other girl can do it too,” says Ashley. “Being a mom to a little girl I hope shows her from a young age that she can choose to be anything in the world that she wants to be, and that is extremely important to me.”

When Ashley isn’t working to keep Hoboken safe, she can be found spending time with her daughter, likely shopping! “My favorite restaurant to go to with my daughter is Blue Eyes. We’ve been there several times and she loves to dress up for the occasion!”

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.