After 27 years as a high school basketball coach, Steve Barnes is calling it a career at Forsyth Central.
Barnes has resigned as the Bulldogs boys coach following a season in which he led the program to its first-ever 6-0 start. Central finished 15-11 overall after suffering a 52-51 overtime loss to South Forsyth in the opening round of the Region 7-AAAA tournament.
“It’s been really a difficult decision,” Barnes said.
“At the end of every season, I pray about it and just seek God’s guidance as to which direction he wants me to go. This year, not like any other, I just feel like it’s time to step away.
“I can’t say I’ve got 100 percent peace about it, but I think that’s what I’m supposed to do now. I’m not sure what God’s got in store for me in the future, but I’m looking forward to that.”
Barnes plans to remain a teacher at Central, where he’s worked since 2000. It’s his second stint at the school during a career that has included stops at Norcross, Marist and South Forsyth.
He began his high school coaching career as an assistant for the Central girls team in the ’80s before taking over the boys program for three years.
“He’s meant a lot to Forsyth Central basketball and the kids that have come through the program,” Central athletic director Mike Woodard said.
“This has been a very enjoyable year for me as an athletic director working with him, and as a parent with a son on his team.”
Woodard said there’s no specific timetable to fill the vacancy.
“We’ll look inside and outside [the school] to find the applicant that best fits the Forsyth Central philosophy,” Woodard said.
Barnes’ resignation comes in a transition period for his family. His oldest son, Colby, was a senior on his team this season and will graduate in May, while youngest son, Campbell, will be entering high school this fall.
“It’ll be nice to be able to spend time with [Campbell] and support him,” Barnes said.
“He’s in special needs classes and he does well.”
Barnes said he’s grateful to the many athletes, parents, faculty and staff members he’s worked with over the years. The coach said his staff members have been second to none.
“I always told [statistician] Greg [Little] that if he ever stopped, I would stop,” Barnes said. “There’s not too many programs that have people like that.”
Barnes has always viewed his coaching role as an opportunity to teach athletes more than just skills on the court. As much as anything, the coach said, he’s tried to teach young men life lessons.
“It’s been a long road and a lot of memories ... and I’ve enjoyed it,” Barnes said. “Central’s been home for my family and it’s a special place. To finish up the way we did this year, it was just a great year other than I wish we could have won a couple more.”