September 13th, 2011
Hyland's Heroes: Mike Barrow
The players are the fuel for Barrow to continue
He carries his CSAA coach’s pass with him. His very first one. From the 1972-73 season.
Now, nearly 40 years later, Mike Barrow continues to carry that first coach’s pass presented to him. For a man who has dedicated so much of his time to the hundreds of girls and boys he has coached, his face is a familiar one in the local CSAA basketball scene.
Scott Kremer, AAU coach of the Louisville Jaguars girl’s basketball program, has known Barrow since they coached against each other in the CSAA more than a decade ago. Kremer has seen first-hand the passion and dedication that Barrow brings to coaching.
“Mike is committed to helping kids better themselves as players and individuals,” said Kremer. “He’s a tremendous supporter of what his kids do on the court and in their lives. He is supportive of them when they get into high school and beyond. He loves being around the kids. The kids have a desire to learn and that fuels his desire to keep helping them grow as people and players.”
Starting at St. Brigid in 1972, Barrow was barely out of high school and got a call from a friend for some help with coaching the team.
“I told my friend that I’d be willing to help,” recalled Barrow. ”Half way through the season he had to step down for health reasons and I kind of took over the team and stayed there for a few years. That’s how I got involved with it, a friend just asked me to help him.”
A simple request to help a friend turned into nearly four decades of coaching boys and girls basketball in the CSAA. From St. Brigid, to St. Martha and now at Holy Spirit, Barrow continues to work for the Catholic community and the kids who show interest in improving their lives and their basketball skills.
“I played at St. Brigid back in the ‘60s, eons ago,” Barrow said. “I just enjoyed coaching right from the start. When my daughters (Rachel and Kristen) played I coached basketball and softball at St. Martha’s. I thought I’d step down after the girls moved on to high school, but you get attached to the kids and I stuck around. Every year you get attached to more people and it keeps me involved. I enjoy doing it.”
He was fortunate to coach his daughters at St. Martha, and eventually watch them compete for and win state championships while at Sacred Heart. Rachel won one, and Kristen won two.
“It just makes me feel good to watch the kids play ball and get them to try and play in high school,” he said. “St. Martha and Holy Spirit have been really fortunate to have a lot of talent at their schools. I enjoy watching the kids develop and grow with the game.”
Barrow has had success at every level, whether you count wins and losses as success or not. He maintains high standards for his teams, and putting forth their best effort is always at the top.
“I tell them to get out and work as hard as you can and be the best player and person you can,” he said. “I just try to push them and make them be the best they can be. It’s been rewarding for me and makes me feel good about what I’m doing.”
The rewards that come from volunteering one’s time and talents can come in many ways. For Barrow, it keeps him young, energized and wanting to continue to contribute to the lives of his student-athletes.
“I had one team at Holy Spirit a few years ago where all five of my starters went on to play high school ball,” he said. “That just shows you how much talent there is here. While we didn’t win the city championship that year, I was really happy to see all five of them go on to play ball in high school. I enjoy seeing them moving on and playing at the next level.”
And while he’s been around for nearly 40 years, give or take a few years to help raise his daughters, Barrow believes that he can still do the job, as long as the kids are willing to work.
“My last five years, every one of them have been ‘my last year’,” he said. “But I keep getting attached and keep coming back. Scott Kremer got me involved about seven or eight years ago in the Jaguars AAU team. It’s great seeing those dedicated girls do well. In the last several years I’ve gone from CSAA tryouts on November 1st through the first or second week of July with the Jaguars. It’s been fun. Each year I say I’m going to hang up my whistle and just do the AAU teams, but I enjoy coaching both. Being around them makes me feel young and keeps me going.”