By David Fleet
Gary Barns has not had a technical foul in 10 years.
“I’ve never been kicked out of a game either,” laughs Barns, reflecting on his career.
After 27 years of coaching the Goodrich Martian’s Boys Varsity basketball team Barn’s has reached another pinnacle of the game—400 wins.
Goodrich defeated Corunna 44-37 on Feb. 2.
“It’s never been a job—we have a lot of fun and I still love it,” said Barns, 67.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know a lot of players. Today those players are in their 50s. Those students are all over the county and they check in time to time. I could not have done it without the my family—they are involved as well.
I get a lot of credit but I actually delegate a lot jobs.”
“Tough schedules make you better a team—I never got into it for wins and losses.”
A 1968 Ortonville graduate, Barns attended Olivet College and Oakland Community College. After college he worked for the State of Michigan as a park ranger and later for the Department of Corrections. He retired from the state in 2005 after 31 years. Barns later worked in maintenance at White Lake Township.
In 1980 Barns started at Goodrich High School as an assistant to JV Boys Basketball Coach John Joslin.
“When John moved up to varsity I went with him as his assistant,” he said. “When John became ill—I took over as varsity coach in 1991, our first win was over Montrose High School. We’ve had some amazing teams over the years including two undefeated teams.”
“I’ve had some really great players over the years,” he said. “Many people have been very supportive including Goodrich Athletic Director Al Martus, who gave me five years to established myself as head coach was great to me—even after going 39-46 my first years.”
Barns recalls the 1996 victory over Hamady High School capturing the first district title for the Maritans in 17 years.
“I was still a green coach in 1996,” he said. “Hamady was ranked in Class C at the time and we took them down. We just tell our players ot leave it all on the gym floor—if I’m not quitting, you’re not quitting.”
Barns also coached the Goodrich JV Girls Basketball team from 1999-2006, taking the team to a remarkable 149-5 record. When the boys and girls basketball season changed to the winter season Barns stayed coaching the boys team.
The passion remains.
“I still have the itch to coach,” he said. “I still get nervous, if you’re not you are not ready. Coaching has it’s peaks and valley—you can’t get too up or too down—remember you’re dealing with kids.”
The Martians finished the 1996-97 regular season without a loss, but were defeated by Hamady High School in regional action ending the season 21-1. The team was also perfect through the 1998-99 regular season, however they lost to Brown City in the regional finals. The season ended 24-1.
The 1995-96 season was the first for Goodrich to make regional’s, where they lost to Elkton-Pigeon Bay Port. In 2012 the Martians made it to the state quarter finals but lost to Detroit County Day. In 2014 made the quarter finals but lost to Det. Douglass.
“I don’t have a life,” he said. “I don’t bowl, smoke, golf or drink. I’m boring, but I coach basketball. It’s the greatest game.”