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Barr moves from court to office as new BE AD

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – ‘Don’t fix what isn’t broken.’

     That old philosophy is exactly the mindset new Bullitt East athletic director Troy Barr brings to the job as he moves from being the boys’ basketball coach to running an entire successful program.

     Barr is once again following Bob Blackburn in the job world. Barr became the basketball coach when Blackburn stepped down and now he replaces Blackburn who retired after six years on the job. Barr was Blackburn’s assistant athletic director for all six of those years.

     “I’ve been fortunate in the two big jobs of my life to follow Bob,” Barr said. “He did the hard work. I had the easy part. I’ll have to work very hard to keep up with what Bob did.”

     The situation of Barr stepping down from basketball to the athletic director’s position was all tied together. It wasn’t an easy decision back in the spring for the former Bullitt East athlete, but it has been a smooth transition so far.

     “It’s definitely been different, but it’s a good change of pace,” Barr said just before school started a few weeks ago. “It’s been good so far. I think I made the right decision.”

     That doesn’t mean it will be easy to stay in the office instead of being on the court when the start of basketball season rolls around on Oct. 15.

     “I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts then,” he said with a chuckle. “I told some this summer that this is the first summer in 22 years I haven’t had 30 to 40 games. There will be times that I miss coaching, but I think I got it out of my system.

     “The closer that Bob got to retiring the more I thought it and decided I wanted to make a move,” Barr admitted. “I felt like I needed a change.”

     Now, Barr goes from overseeing one program to having a hand in 18 teams.

     “I had a good idea what I was getting into,” Barr said with a smile. “Still, there were things I didn’t know how much time would be involved.

     “The reason I wanted to be the assistant was to see if I wanted to do it,” he added. “My rank I is in counseling and I thought at one time I would go that route.”

     As he sees it, after such a long time in sports, the move to the AD’s job was the only direction to go.

     “I don’t know what else I would do,” Barr pointed out. “Counseling would be the only other possibility. As long as I enjoy it and it doesn’t take too much time from the family, it could be the last thing I do.”

     Barr’s wife, Crystal, is a counselor at Bullitt East. The couple have two daughters, 13-year old Summer and 11-year old Kemper, who are both in feeder schools to Bullitt East and who both are involved in sports, either as a cheerleader or a player.

     Barr is the first to admit that he is taking over a program that is on solid footing. Bullitt East fielded teams in every sport sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association other than fishing last year. Over the past five years, the school’s programs have reached the state tournament in boy’s basketball, softball, baseball, cheerleading, archery and girls’ golf in addition to a trip to the state finals in football, top four finishes in both boys’ and girls’ cross-country as well as a handful of individual state championships in track.

     So, Barr doesn’t plan any major overhaul to the program.

     “The old saying is ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’,” was his response. “I won’t try to change things. It’s pretty phenomenal the way things are working right now.

     “Any change will be small to start out,” Barr added. “A lot of people will have input (if any changes are needed). Right now it is pretty much maintain it and move it forward. ”

     That is not to say that the future will be smooth sailing. There are a few dark clouds on the horizon. Starting with this school year, the cross-country and track programs will be moving from Class 2-A to Class 3-A and will compete against the largest schools in the state. Over the next year, the school will be sweating realignment for football, a situation which could move that program into Class 6-A with the top programs in the state.

     When Barr was a student at Bullitt East, the school was less than half the size of Bullitt Central. Now, Bullitt East is the largest school in the county, having roughly 1,500 students this year.

     In addition, facilities will always be a worry. That is true both in keeping what is already there in good condition as well as adding anything else. The poor condition of the county’s three high school tracks is well documented and no fix is imminent. At this point, there is no land available for any additional fields even if the program looks to add field hockey or lacrosse.

     “We really can’t add anything else with the land we have,” Barr pointed out. “We’ll just try to make what we have better. Some of it will take some time.”

     Barr is well aware that adding any sport has to be considered in the context of Title IX legislation (gender equality).

     Besides needing to find a new assistant AD, the program also lost Shannon Hall as the CPR and conditioning coordinator. The school filled both positions in one shot as baseball coach Jeff Bowles will now add those two duties to his coaching and teaching duties.