WARSAW – Ben Barkey definitely cultivated a family feeling around the Warsaw boys golf program throughout his highly-successful tenure as the man in charge of the Tiger program.
Family, as in his own, is a big reason why Barkey has resigned after a terrific run the past 14 years.
That, and the fact that his hiring as an assistant principal at WCHS, does not allow him to hold both positions due to school policy.
Barkey coached the Tigers for the final time last Friday as Warsaw finished fifth in its own sectional at Rozella Ford.
“I want to be a good father first and my kids are getting older,” said Barkey in a phone interview today. “This is an opportunity for me to grow as a professional, the next step in my professional growth. I would not be walking away as golf coach if this was not the situation that I can not do both. That decision was made for me. But, it was a perfect time for everything.”
Barkey, who was formerly an instructional coach at Washington Stem Academy, has been the interim vice principal at WCHS since February.
“My real passion is to work with kids who have no one to lean on,” Barkey said. “I want to help fill a void working with kids to help them make the right decisions. In my new position, I get the best of both Worlds. I get to work with and help kids and still work with the teachers, which I was doing at Washington.”
Barkey has bled orange and black for a long, long time. The 1997 WCHS graduate played for former outstanding coach Bob Turner. Barkey guided the Tigers to eight Northern Lakes Conference titles, eight sectional crowns and four regional titles in his tenure. His 2005 team won the state championship. Barkey, who is well respected by his coaching peers, was NLC Coach of the Year seven times and Region Coach of the Year on four occasions. His dual meet record was an eye-popping 158-32 and he coached eight All-State players, including 2010 individual state champion Tyler Ostrom, and seven golfers who went on to play Division I collegiately.
“The relationships with the players is what I will miss most,” said Barkey. “They are as close to family as it gets. And the relationships with the coaches too.”
“I just want the program during my time as coach to be remembered as all of us in it worked hard. That’s a life lesson. If you do that, whether in athletics or life, everything will work out in the long run.”
Barkey noted Ostrom’s final round of 63 in 2010, a long, walk-off eagle putt by Jon Schram at Stonehenge that gave the Tigers the regional title in 2013 and the state championship as the moments he will never forget.
Barkey, whose team this Spring had no seniors, will not be too far from the course.
“I’ll always be involved in the game and in golf eduction,” said Barkey. “Now, it will just be on my own time. It’s important for the next coach to continue something that I’ve poured my heart and soul into over the years, as all of our players have. But, I will not be looking over their shoulder, whoever takes over the program. But, the guys know if I’m not around out there it’s not because I don’t care.”
Both his true family and his golf family can vouch for how much he always did that.