PDT Sports Writer
The feat of 400 coaching victories is an accomplishment that comes with thought and reflection.
It’s the best way for Wheelersburg coach Tom Barrick to think about as he reached the milestone in Tuesday’s 55-21 Pirate win over Northwest. While the number recognizes an individual, Barrick believes it’s beyond him.
“First and foremost, I’ve been very fortunate along the coaching trail,” Barrick said Thursday evening. “I’ve had good people along with, as everybody, you’ve got to have good people around you. I’ve been fortunate to have good people around and our coaching staff has stayed together.”
Barrick, in his 19th season as head coach of the Pirate basketball program and the head of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association, has taken Wheelersburg to three state appearances that included a state runner-up finish in the 1994-1995 season. He credits a lot of the success to the ones who settle it on the court.
“We’ve had good kids and good players,” Barrick said. “We’d like to think as coaches that you have some impact but the bottom line is it’s the kids.”
His modesty continued when he talked about those who are also in the profession.
“There’s a lot better coaches than myself out there that have not been as fortunate as I have and that’s probably the best way of saying it,” Barrick said. “To get to 400 is nice but in reality, I know that I’ve been very, very lucky along the trail to have some awfully good players some awfully good coaches working with us.”
He is 100 wins away from 500. At the start of this season, that plateau has been reached by 40 other coaches.
The love of the hardwood is in Barrick’s blood. His father, Ron, played and his sister Lisa (Barrick) Miller was on the 1982 state championship team at Warsaw River View. She also played on the team that was a state semifinalist the following year.
Although Barrick admitted his skill set would not translate to the college game, he still wanted to be involved in the sport. The passion for basketball was one of the first words he associated to his decision on his vocation.
“I like the competition and I always have,” Barrick said. “…I grew up in an area where basketball was the premier sport, it was a very important part of our community, a very important part of our county.”
Barrick was in seventh grade when River View won the 1975 state boys championship. Two years later, Dave Olinger from rival West Lafayette Ridgewood was named Class AA Player of the Year and went on to play at the University of Pittsburgh.
Other influential figures in the area included coaches such as Charlie Huggins — the father of current West Virginia coach Bob Huggins — and Barrick’s high school coach Walt Harrop, Jr., who is in the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
“I grew up where basketball was very important so I kinda gravitated towards basketball,” Barrick said.
Outside of the area, Barrick feels former Indiana coach Bob Knight legendary NAIA coach Don Meyer made a very significant impacts on his coaching philosophy.
“(Meyer) is probably the foremost teacher of the game of basketball,” Barrick said. “You just take a little bit from everybody.”
EMBARKING ON THE TRAIL
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1985 from Rio Grande, Barrick’s first coaching position was a one-year stint as the reserve coach at Fort Frye High School. A year later, Barrick was named the head coach at Jewett-Scio High School (which has since been consolidated to Cadiz Harrison Central).
He spent four years at Jewett-Scio before going to McConnelsville Morgan High School. In 1994, Barrick left for Scioto County and has not looked back.
Of Barrick’s 400 wins, 336 have come in the orange and black. During his time, he has coached a plethora of players with many being family members of previous letterwinners. Many of the players on this roster were either infants or toddlers when Barrick arrived.
“You take every year as a separate year, you try not to compare kids, you try not to compare seasons,” Barrick said. “We let a couple of games get away. To be honest, as a coach and all of the coaches that whatever they win, will tell you the numbers are not as important as the numbers this year.
“It’s really been about just trying to get this team to play at the highest level. We’ve played some good basketball but we haven’t been as consistent as we’ve needed to at times this year.”
CONSISTENCY AND WISDOM
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed since Barrick’s tenure at Wheelersburg, it’s his coaching staff. Leading the way is assistant Ken Massie, who has been a part of the Pirate basketball program for 28 years.
Barrick has also had the help of Brian Oakes and Dave Ruker. Oakes is in his 14th year in the program and Rucker has spent eight seasons affiliated with Wheelersburg basketball.
When asked what present-day Tom Barrick would tell his previous self, it would be balancing his life and priorities.
“We sometimes, because of the pressure put on by outside sources… we get an inbalance in our lives,” Barrick said. “You really need to have a balance in your life.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.