Now, just three years removed from her days as a member of the Lady Eagles‘ basketball team, Barnett has made the transition to head coach.
She was named the girls head basketball coach just before the start of the school year in August. She takes over for her former coach Bart Black, who was not retained.
“When I played, I didn’t have a lot of skill. I had to work at it,” Barnett said. “I got into watching game film. I would watch the other team on film for hours. The next time we played them, I knew everything they were running. Everybody on their team would be like, ‘How does she know what we’re doing?’
“I just loved the sport and I thought, ‘Hey, this is what I would like to do.’”
Barnett, 21, has been coaching since her high school playing days ended in 2008. She was the Sumiton Christian junior high girls coach in 2008 and 2009 and spent the 2010-11 season as a student coach at the University of Montevallo. Barnett is currently studying secondary education at the University of Alabama and is on track to graduate in May 2013.
She was in Montreal this summer when Sumiton Christian athletic director Greg Patterson gave her a call about the girls head coaching job.
“It was a couple of weeks before school started. He said, ‘We need to talk.’ Within about a week, I came in for an interview and was offered the position,” said Barnett, whose father Barry also coached at the high school level.
Sumiton Christian is already off to a 2-0 start after winning the Shades Mountain Thanksgiving Tournament. The Lady Eagles opened with a 44-39 win over Isabella on Monday and won the tournament title, beating Shades Mountain 37-29 in the championship game Wednesday.
Barnett has four seniors on this year’s squad: Clara Bowen, Alicia Kirkland, Cadi Oliver and T’Ebonie Tanner.
“If anyone watches us play, you won’t see many differences from teams coach Black had the last few years. We have to work on controlled aggression. Sometimes we get too aggressive,” Barnett said.
As for this year’s goals at Sumiton Christian, Barnett is hoping for a winning record and a spot in the sub-regionals. The Lady Eagles are in the same region as perennial state contender Cold Springs, Oakman and American Christian.
Barnett said Sumiton Christian is the perfect place to being her varsity coaching career.
“I like the idea of being in a place and forming a foundation and running a program — not just staying there for three or four years. When I see a kid in first grade I want to be able to say, ‘I can’t wait for you to play for me as a senior,’” Barnett said. “Sumiton Christian is a very good place to be. If I didn’t believe in the school and like the people and the kids, I wouldn’t have made this move.”