PDT Sports Writer
The decision wasn’t rushed, rather the thought came months before the actual decision.
That’s how Tom Barrick described the decision to step away from the Wheelersburg boys basketball program in an exclusive interview Friday with The Daily Times. The publication learned of Barrick’s resignation late Thursday night in a press release sent by the school.
“It’s not a hasty decision but I think the timing is right,” Barrick said. “…I think the timing is right to give somebody an opportunity to come in and have some success with these kids and establish their own program.”
Barrick leaves after running the Pirates basketball program for the past 19 seasons. He admitted that he consulted many people within his inner circle — which included family and select friends in and outside of basketball — prior to this past winter’s boys basketball tournament. All those affiliated supported Barrick on his final decision.
“Coaching has always been, and all of the coaches will say the same thing, that coaching has been a family decision,” Barrick said. “I’ve always had that great support from my wife, kids and all of my family.”
He also felt he wanted to get through this past weekend’s Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association North-South Game before making any type of announcement. For the past two years, Barrick has served as the OHSBCA President.
In his 19 seasons at Wheelersburg, Barrick collected a record of 339-113 (.750 winning percentage) with 11 SOC II championships, 14 sectional crowns, eight district titles and three state final four berths. In his first season,1994-1995, he took the Pirates to the state championship game. He was also honored seven times by the Southern Ohio Conference, four times by The Daily Times and twice by members of the Associated Press in the Southeast District as Coach of the Year.
Barrick earned his 400th career coaching victory Jan. 15 when Wheelersburg captured a 55-21 win over Northwest. The Pirates finished the 2012-2013 season with a record of 9-14 and were eliminated in a Division III Southeast Sectional Final by eventual state runner-up Ironton.
While he is leaving the sidelines, Barrick will stay with the school as a health and physical education teacher. With 28 years of teaching experience, Barrick would not say how much longer he would teach.
In a release submitted by the school, Wheelersburg superintendent Mark Knapp showered praise for Barrick.
“Coach Barrick’s dedication and commitment to the sport and his student-athletes is to be commended,” Knapp said. “We appreciate his time and talent in directing a highly successful basketball program.”
Barrick felt all of the praise shouldn’t be for what he did during his time as the coach.
“Wheelersburg basketball was outstanding long before Tom Barrick ever got there and Wheelersburg basketball is going to be great long after I leave,” Barrick said. “It’s not an end to anything, it’s just a changing of the guard, per se. I anticipate great things from our kids, great things for the next person coming in.”
Now Barrick will look to spend his first summer away from the game in a long time. He admitted it will be interesting to enjoy holidays rather than plan them around practices and games.
As for his replacement, Barrick hopes whoever succeeds him will do what is best for the future of the program, whether they come from within or outside of the program. Wheelersburg athletic director Chris Porter will be at the forefront of the coaching search.
One thing he is proud of more than anything is the kids he has interacted with throughout his tenure and what they’ve done after their high school playing career ended.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.