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LHS educator, coach enters Hall of Fame
LAKEWOOD There is something to be said for perseverance, dedication and loyalty. In the case of Lakewood High School physical education teacher and fastpitch softball coach Steve Barker, his 28 years at the helm has earned him a spot in the Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
While gracious upon hearing of the honor, the humble educator and whistle-toting coach said it was just a sign of getting older and coaching for a long time.
I see lots of coaches that coach through a lot of girls, but I stay with it because I enjoy it, Barker said. I am proud that I can do a good job.
For thirty-four years Barker has been an educator in the Arlington and Lakewood School Districts.
Barker began his teaching career at nearby AHS where he put in 18 years before heading west to Lakewood.
He began at Lakewood Junior High, taught one year at Lakewood Middle School and has been at LHS since the fall of 1991.
Two state championships in 1984 and 1986 highlight his years at the helm of coaching.
The state of Washington ended competitive high school slowpitch softball in 1999 and fastpitch softball has been in play ever since.
A combined total of 10 league titles, two district championships, and eight state tournament appearances (including a LHS third-place and fourth-place finish) between the two schools highlight his coaching resume.
Barker said to the best of his knowledge three former players have advanced to the four-year collegiate level in addition to a lot of community college athletes.
Asking a coach with nearly three decades of experience to name his most gifted athlete is akin to having a parent choose a favorite child.
With no disrespect directed toward any of the high quality athletes, Barker said former shortstop Tina Adams comes to the front of his mind.
There were a lot of other great athletes, but she probably stands out as the best, he said.
Adams, known as Tina Baumgartner while at AHS, was a member of both state championship teams before continuing her three-sport successes at the collegiate level.
She was a great leader and a great student. She was a three-sport athlete at Skagit Valley Community College and probably the best athlete I have coached.
After Adams left SVCC she continued her career at the University of Idaho before finishing her degree at California Lutheran.
A current resident of the Stanwood area and teacher at Kings High School in Shoreline, Adams was excited to hear the news of her former coach.
Steve was the best coach I ever had, she said. I played three sports in high school and college and he was just the best. He expected excellence. I had him in the classroom as well as on the field. You just knew that you were going to be a success. He also instilled in us confidence. He was always a positive leader.
Adams said while she may only see him two to three times a year, but still enjoys watching LHS games.
When I see that they (LHS) are playing a softball game I run out there.
Barker said he may be a successful coach, but is quick to deflect the credit to Brad Ubert, his assistant coach.
The two graduated from AHS together and grew up together, he said.
Hes been my right-hand man all the time. Hell be my junior varsity coach again this year and we are looking forward to it.
Some of the fondest memories on the softball diamond involve the years his two daughters were Lady Cougars.
I had two daughters four years apart and they both played softball, he said. Those years were really special. My wife was really supportive. She was a little league coach and I have always been really appreciative of the support shes given.
Stephanie Barker graduated in 1997 and Kelcie in 2001.