April 18, 2012 in High School
Many in the high school basketball community are familiar with the incredibly tough real-life situation longtime Goodrich coach Gary Barns and his family are going through. Barns’ 29-year-old son, David Barns, has been battling cancer for the past year. His son’s illness, along with some alleged behind-the-scenes, vague controversies alluded to in this Grand Blanc View report, prompted Barns to take a leave of absence from coaching this year to help care for his son.
I covered Goodrich quite a bit during my time at the Flint Journal, and Barns was always one of a handful of coaches I could always be confident would give me something interesting to write about after a game. He built a fantastic program at Goodrich, complete with a rabid student section that packed a tiny gym and made it one of the toughest road gyms in the region to play in (ask any opposing coach, they will tell you). Interviews with Barns were always interesting. If Goodrich won (and they usually did those couple seasons I covered them), Barns was always in a great, philosophical mood, and it was hard to end interviews with him in less than 45 minutes because he’d talk about ball as long as you’d let him. But he was no less talkative in losses, a rarity for coaches. He was unafraid to be mad after a loss and his emotions often caused him to say things he probably would’ve thought better of if he’d had a chance to stop and gather himself for a few minutes. One of my favorite Barns stories came after a devastating playoff loss to Powers Catholic in 2008. Barns spotted longtime Flint Journal reporter Bill Khan, who many readers accused of having a bit of a Powers bias over the years, and yelled, “Hey Bill, I didn’t recognize you without your Powers varsity jacket.” I believe he once also wondered aloud if Bill was driving the Powers bus after the game.
Anyway, I always enjoyed Barns’ sense of humor. As a reporter, he was incredibly generous giving his time to me, win or lose. And as a basketball fan, I always learned something about the game by talking to him. Those are the reasons I was so happy to see the above video report from ABC 12, where the state’s biggest names in college coaching showed their support for a family who has given so much to the game at the local level and is going through an incredibly hard time right now. I hope Barns gets a chance to resume his coaching career, but most importantly, I hope his son is able to get better.