By Aimee Kidrick
News & Features Editor
Much like the shape of a basketball hoop, things have come full circle for EOU alumni Jared Barrett.
“It’s been almost 15 years since I left (La Grande), and I always wanted to get back to this area and coach my Alma Mater,” Barrett said.
Barrett is not only the new head men’s basketball coach for the Mountaineers, but he also started his coaching career in La Grande as the junior varsity coach for EOU from 1998 to 2000.
Born in Rexburg, Idaho, Barrett grew up as a major sports enthusiast.
“When I was growing up, I was better at baseball, but liked basketball a lot better,” explained Barrett. “But I played almost every sport you could think of.”
Barrett originally played baseball and basketball at Olympic College before ending up at Eastern. He was voted the most valuable player of the EOU team following the 1996-1997 season.
Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health, Barrett went on to serve as the head or assistant coach for several schools. Over the course of 15 years, Barrett coached for teams at colleges such as Sacramento State, Utah Valley University and Southern Utah. During those years, Barrett witnessed several amazing moments, one of which being especially memorable.
“One of my players scored 61 points in a game. And it was a game that had four overtimes,” said Barrett. “There were also two players on the other team that scored 40 points. It was an incredible game.”
Back at EOU, Barrett is aware that the expectations for his team are high, especially since last year’s team set an unprecedented record.
“When I applied for this job, I knew the expectations (were high) because of the success (EOU’s) had over the past six or seven years,” said Barrett. “Especially after last year, being number one in the country for five weeks and winning 28 games and having only five losses. It’s the most wins they’ve ever had in the program’s history.”
Despite the high expectations, Barrett believes he can meet them. “I would not have even applied for the job if I was not confident in my abilities to keep the program going in the same direction,” he said.
Barrett’s confidence in his abilities seems strong indeed; his team opened the 2013-2014 season with two wins, including a second-half comeback that led to a 68-57 victory over New Hope Christian College.
One could say that life has come full circle for Barrett. He hopes for a successful season, and regardless of how this basketball season unfolds, Barrett is happy to be back at EOU.
“I’m excited with the group of guys that I have,” said Barrett. “They’re good, talented basketball players, but they’re even better people.”