Barkey Leaving Big Shoes To Fill
Article by Dale Hubler,
Times-Union Sports Editor
I have no idea what size of a shoe Ben Barkey wears.
I do know, however, Barkey is leaving big shoes to fill.
Barkey just completed his 14th season as the boys golf coach at Warsaw Community High School, with the 2016 campaign ending Friday with a fifth-place finish in the sectional at Rozella Ford. As it's already been reported, he's stepping down to focus on his new role as assistant principal at WCHS.
During Barkey's tenure, the Tigers won eight Northern Lakes Conference championships, eight sectional titles, four regional titles and, in just Barkey's third year as coach, the 2005 state championship.
Barkey was named the NLC coach of the year seven times. Four times he was named the region coach of the year.
He coached eight all-state players, including 2010 individual state champion Tyler Ostrom, and three academic all-state players.
Seven of Barkey's former players went on to play NCAA Divison I golf.
During his 14 seasons, the Tigers put together an incredible record of 158-32, a mark that doesn't include the 24 tournament wins his teams posted.
Those are pretty impressive numbers.
Like I said, Barkey is leaving some pretty big shoes to fill.
“I had the opportunity to play for Ben for four years, and then immediately after graduating I coached with him for another six years,” said Tad Nieter, a member of the 2005 state championship team and currently the girls golf coach at WCHS.
“I don't think I've ever seen a coach work as relentlessly as he does. What makes Ben unique is his desire to see the kids succeed. I've never seen him get upset with a player for not playing well, but if they didn't give it their all, he would let them know. All of the players that came through the program had the utmost respect for his work ethic. We all knew he had our best interest in mind and he always had our backs. His home was always open to any of his players if they needed to talk, vent or just hang out and discuss life.
“Not many people saw the work Ben put into the program to make it elite, and that's one of the things I'm most proud of him for.”
I've known Barkey for nearly a quarter-century. We were classmates at WCHS, and it was an absolute joy having a working relationship with him. We talked golf. We talked fishing. We talked about his kids growing up. We talked about his brother Curt and his dad Phil, both of whom had roles with the Warsaw program during Barkey’s tenure.
If you've never had the pleasure of talking to Ben Barkey, here's what you need to know – he's passionate about whatever he's doing, he's professional, and he has a positive approach to it all.
That combination has allowed him to be a success as both a coach and an educator.
Barkey was recently named the state’s teacher of the year by the Air Force Association.
Nieter isn't shy about why he chose teaching and coaching as his career path.
“For me personally, Ben has always been a big influence on my life,” said Nieter. “I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the help and support he showed me over the last decade. A lot of the skills and strategies he fed to me, I use them for our girls program today.
“Some of my fondest memories in life have been when I was with the boys golf program with Ben. I know whenever I'm in need, I can pick up the phone and call Ben and he will be there in a heartbeat, and that's what means the most to me.
“He's going to be a fantastic administrator for Warsaw Community Schools. His contagious, fun and laid-back personality, while also letting the kids know that he cares about them, is just what they need.”
This much I know, the administration team at WCHS is getting a winner, and it goes far beyond his coaching record.
Ben, thanks for everything, and good luck in this new journey, my friend.