West Bridgewater girls’ coach Barrett to join hall of fame
When Steve Barrett was hired as the athletic director at West Bridgewater High in 1980, he needed to fill an opening: varsity girls’ basketball coach.
“Time was short and the girls needed a coach,’’ recalled Barrett, a native of Kingston, R.I. “I had coached the boys’ JV team and I knew the girls’ players, so my thought was to do it for one year.’’
Thirty-one years and 510 career victories later, Barrett has been recognized by his peers for his work on the court.
A past Division 3 Coach of the Year, and with 18 Mayflower League titles on his resume, Barrett has been selected to the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. The induction ceremonies will be held in November at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
“The honor has less to do with me and more to do with my assistants, who have put in the hard work, and my players, who have bought into what we want to accomplish,’’ said Barrett, who still serves as West Bridgewater’s athletic director.
“I’m an old-school coach in many ways. I keep every scorebook from the first game I’ve coached and all my practice notes,’’ he said, “but I’ve also discovered that to be successful you have to find the system that fits your players.
“You can’t impose something on them that won’t work.’’
Previous inductees from area schools include Bob Fisher (Rockland High), Laney-Clement Holbrook (Oliver Ames) and Bob Hohne (Old Rochester Regional).
Prior to last season, Barrett tried to play down his approach to the 500-win mark for his career.
But assistant coach Courtney Trupiano, a 1999 graduate and former team captain, found the old scorebooks and tallied up the victories with a friend.
“When Coach won his 500th, we presented him with a banner and flowers,’’ said Trupiano, one of six former players who have worked as assistants on Barrett’s staff at West Bridgewater.
“I also took the game ball and had the girls sign it. We had it put in a case and gave it to him at our next home game,’’ she said.
Trupiano, who teaches health and physical education at the high school, said playing for Barrett was “awesome.’’
“Coach is a big part of who I am today,’’ she said. “I’ve followed his career path and have so much respect for him. He must have had a million yearbooks dedicated to him over the years.’’
Barrett might have been beating the drums instead for a living: he was a music major at the University of Rhode Island.
“I was talking with a good friend who told me I needed to do something that I really loved,’’ he recalled.
So Barrett switched his major as a senior, then earned his master’s in physical education at URI. He was hired at West Bridgewater in 1976 and took the helm of the golf team a year later.
His golf team’s alumni include a pair of assistant pros, Robby Thompson (Thorny Lea Golf Club) and Mike Calef (Brockton Golf Club).
Barrett has two official holes in one and another that was not witnessed. “For as many balls as I’ve hit, you’d think I’d have even more,’’ said Barrett, who plays mainly out of Pine Oaks Golf Club in Easton.
Barrett has coached eight girls who reached the 1,000-point career scoring milestone, including current volunteer assistant Kristin Regan, a captain at West Bridgewater and at Bryant College, where she was a Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year in the 1990s.
“Steve Barrett instilled a love of basketball in me, and gave our teams the drive to succeed,’’ said Regan. “It’s impressive because we had maybe 30 girls in each class. There’s no one more fitting for the Hall of Fame honor. He turned athletes into basketball players.’’
Barrett, a Falmouth resident, has guided his teams to what he estimates are a half-dozen South sectional postseason semifinals and finals. Last year’s team made it to the semis.
“I’m not a numbers person,’’ said Barrett. “What impresses me more is we could be down by 25 points with 10 seconds to play and our kids are diving for a loose ball. I couldn’t be more proud of our work ethic, and of our former players who love to come back to the gym and work out with the team.’’
Former assistant coach Jennifer Gallagher Smith organized a reunion of Barrett’s players and the presentation of a scrapbook of memorabilia on the occasion of his win No. 400 several years ago.
“That was an unbelievable surprise,’’ said Barrett. And then, there was another celebration in January.
“When we got the 500th win, some of the boys I had coached as JV’s in the late ’70s were also there to say hello.
“The reaction to my 500th is hard to put into words. When we played at South Shore Voke a few games after I got that win, their coach and athletic director, Joe Marani, stopped the game and made a special presentation. It was such a nice gesture.’’
A single man with no children, Barrett says his life is truly enriched by the players he coaches.
“They’re my family,’’ he said.
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.