"Coach Barrett is a man of high moral character," says Diane Howell, principal of York Comprehensive High School. "There is no better role model throughout the county."
The Carolina Panthers have named Coach John Barrett as a Coach of the Week recipient. The program recognizes outstanding high school coaches that have a positive influence in the communities and schools which they serve. In addition to receiving this award, a $1,000 donation from the Panthers and the National Football League will be made to the school's athletic department.
Coach Barrett has only been a head coach for one year, but has been coaching for 29 years, the last eleven at York, the smallest AAAA school in South Carolina. In his first year as head coach, he led the Cougars to an 8-5 record and a playoff berth. He and his wife Anita have been married 25 years and have two daughters, Dana and Lee Ann.
A 1979 graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Coach Barrett understands the meaning of discipline and accountability. "He's a great guy and a great coach, but he sure can be strict on the field. He keeps us accountable for everything," says York senior Ryan Dennis. This accountability reaches off the field as well, as Coach Barrett stresses the importance of his players' academics. The team averages a 3.0 GPA and his student-athletes have received scholarships because of their success not just on the field, but also in the classroom.
"If you set the bar high, kids will reach it if you give them a chance," says Principal Howell. "Coach Barrett not only helps the kids along the way, he leads them with his own actions. He turns teenagers into respectable role models; they don't ever get into trouble." York CHS recently received the AAAA Region III Award of Excellence for an exemplary display of sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity, in large part to the standards and expectations set by Coach Barrett.
His commitment to the York community is well documented, including the following recent projects:
- In the 2006-07 school year, he took his senior football players to local elementary schools to read to the children.
- During the regular season, he brings youth football players and cheerleaders into each football game for free.
- This past summer, he and his players painted the house of a 91-year-old woman who is an avid fan of the school.
Coach Barrett truly understands the meaning of giving back to the community. Oftentimes, however, it is the small things that make a difference. "Every day at lunch, he walks around the cafeteria talking to all of the students, not just his athletes," says Principal Howell. "He really shows that he cares more about the people in our community than just about wins and losses."
Despite all of these accolades, the thing that stands out the most about Coach Barrett is his faith. When asked about his coach, the first comment from Ryan Dennis: "He's a good Christian man." Coach Barrett is heavily involved in his church and the high school's FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) program; he recently took his team to an FCA football camp.
This comes back to those early Sunday mornings with his players. It is rather obvious why these meetings are so important to him. John Barrett knows that there is more to his players than athletic talent. He recognizes that there is life outside of football, even for those players that go on to have careers in the NFL. He understands that he is one of the chief adult figures in his players' lives and that he has the potential to lead them to a promising future. The Carolina Panthers wish Coach Barrett and the York Cougars the best of luck this season.