Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 Yellow Springs coach close to 500th win

01/02/2013

The drive from Versailles to Yellow Springs takes about an hour and 10 minutes by car.

For Yellow Springs High School girls basketball coach Tim Barga, it has been 29 years and 500 wins.

The longtime local basketball coach finds himself on the cusp of a coaching landmark. If his Bulldogs beat Arcanum on Saturday, he becomes one of 13 coaches, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association unofficial record book, with 500 wins.

It’s been a long trip and career for the 56-year-old coach, who makes the hour-long drive every day from his hometown to Yellow Springs.

“The miles are tough, but outside of that, I like coaching the kids,” Barga said. “I know at my age you can’t travel that far every day for very long.”

Barga started coaching in 1981 in the early days of girls basketball at Versailles High School. He built the program into one of the powerhouses in the state.

He took the Tigers to state twice and was named state coach of the year once. He won 12 titles in the old Southwestern Rivers Conference before Versailles moved to the Midwest Athletic Conference.

With his daughter Shanan on the roster, Barga coached his last season in 2002-03. He agreed to resign before the season after complaints about his coaching style were made to the Versailles school board. Barga, who maintains that he did nothing wrong, said Friday that complaints had more to do with small town politics than his coaching style.

After creating one of the best programs in the state, Barga stayed in coaching and found himself starting over at Russia and Fairlawn.

“It was hard,” Barga said. “Kids didn’t know how to dribble or to pass. They didn’t know how to pivot, or how to step in or what a chest pass was. You had to go through all that stuff the first year. It was like starting out in third or fourth grade sometimes. That type of stuff starts at home. I was a fairly decent ballplayer because I was taught everything at home.

“Everything starts at home — school, sports, your kids’ personality — and I will say that to the day I die.”

Last year he took over at Yellow Springs, a school and town much different than a high school sports hive like Darke or Shelby counties. He found himself again teaching basketball from scratch. He has only eight players and at times only that many fans show up at games.

The Bulldogs, 5-2, are seeking their first season over .500 in recent memory. They have talented and balanced starting lineup, a lineup that could get Barga his 500th win.

But the wins seem to blend into memory for Barga, who said he will remember his players more than any single victory.

“The biggest thing is watching the kids on the court,” Barga said. “Just seeing the look on their faces after they get a big win. That’s just huge for a coach, to watch their players react after winning a big game. You remember those kind of things a lot.”