|Barker won’t retain UC baseball or football duties |
|By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
Plain and simple, David Barker won’t be back next season at Union City’s head baseball coach.
Equally as uncomplicated is the reason he was given why.
“We’re going to go in a different direction,” UCHS Principal Barry Duncan said, confirming the latest in a long line of coaching moves at his school this year. “I believe it’s time for new blood and some new energy in our baseball program. We’re appreciative of David’s contributions and efforts, but it’s just time we move with another person in charge.”
Barker, who also has served for seven seasons as a Tornado football assistant, will not be retained in that position either. He is a tenured teacher and must be kept on staff, but indicated to The Messenger on Thursday that he had already had made inquiries about positions at other schools.
“I will be coaching again in some facet, but nothing is etched in stone yet,” Barker claimed. Duncan said no successor has been named to fill the school’s now-open baseball vacancy. The UC administrator said he had no definite timetable to name a new coach but indicated he expected to move soon on the matter.
A 29-year-old Dresden native, Barker has been Union City’s head baseball coach the last four seasons, compiling a 79-41-1 record during that time with a pair of district championships. His most recent Tornado squad won half its games (16-15-1), but claimed the 14A tournament title and advanced to the regional tournament, where the locals were beaten by McKenzie.
Barker’s best season was his second at the UC helm two years ago when the Twisters won a school-record 27 games. He was an assistant to Tim Evans in 2002 and ’03 and piloted the Union City softball program for one season in 2004, posting a 9-14 mark.
His football duties were multiple and included everything from freshmen, to secondary responsibilities to defensive coordinator the last three seasons.
With new Tornado skipper Darren Bowling and his defensive coordinator Wes Kennedy hired in January from Dyersburg, Barker likely faced a diminished role had he been retained in the program.
The remainder of Bowling’s staff is now essentially set with holdover Mack Moore, new-hire Preston Martin of North Madisonville (Ky.) High School and paraprofessional assistants Derrick Pritchard, Nick Markle and Morgan Cruce joining Kennedy as aides.
Barker claims he’ll leave the Purple and Gold coaching fraternity with his head held high.
“Obviously, my individual plans and those of others who make these decisions weren’t the same,” he said. “I tried to do the right thing in every instance, provide discipline and structure where our kids needed it and made sure they had fun.
“Winning is the ultimate goal, but it’s not all that we’re to be judged by. I hope I am remembered as a humble man who treated young people with respect and one who always made good moral decisions.”
Duncan actually coached on the same UC football staff as Barker when the former was winding up his distinguished career as a longtime Tornado aide and the latter was first hired in the local system.
“David was a little bit of the old regime just before I retired and a lot of the new regime that followed us,” Duncan said. “In some ways, he helped carry the banner from one era to the next.”
Both Duncan and Barker spoke highly of the now ex-coach’s work in the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes program, where he served as a chapter sponsor.
“I’m proud of my work there,” Barker said. “I think we’ve headed a lot of kids in the right direction.”
Though obviously disappointed with the move, Barker spoke highly of his time in the UCHS coaching ranks.
“The community has been good to me support-wise, and it’s a community that holds a lot of the same conservative values that I have,” he claimed. “The administration was been good to work for, too. I have no complaints.
“The football coaches that I worked with initially, Coach (Randy) Barnes, Coach Duncan and Coach (Bobby) Williams had a large influence on me and taught me how to go about doing business and how to get young people to carry themselves. I’ll always be appreciative for that.”
Barker’s removal and subsequent replacement will cap a school year in which there has been coaching movement in football, both boys’ and girls’ basketball, track and baseball at UCHS.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.23.08