A North Carolina high school this week announced that it would hire its own girls’ basketball coach to also coach the boys.
According to the Watauga Democrat, Watauga (N.C.) High School’s Laura Barry was named the new head coach for the boys’ basketball team at the same school in a board of education meeting held earlier this week. Barry will pull double-duty, remaining the head coach of the girls’ team.
Barry, a former player at the University of North Carolina, has had coaching stints at the collegiate level, serving as an assistant at Alleghany College, St. John’s University and East Tennessee State. Since landing at Watauga, she’s led the girls’ team to back-to-back playoff runs, including a conference championship in the 2017-18 season. The team swept aside traditional powerhouses during that run.
Watauga principal Chris Blanton recognized the unique challenge of coaching two teams, but expressed confidence in Barry, telling the Democrat, “We are asking a lot and it takes a special person to do both, but we certainly feel like Laura is able to do it. She’s shown a commitment to player development through her ‘Peak’ program she’s implemented and she puts in the work and puts in the time. She’s going to have to lean on her assistant coaches for some things. It’s going to be demanding, but I know she can handle it.”
Barry said she met with members of both teams prior to the announcement. She noted that while it’s unique for a woman to coach boys, men often coach girls.
“For me personally, it isn’t a barrier,” Barry told the Democrat. “As far as coaching guys and girls I think there are differences, but I don’t think there is any oddness or challenge off the top from my angle. For the guys, some of them may have never been coached by a female, so they’ll have to get used to a little different voice, but I don’t think it will take them long. I’ve got a lot of faith in them that they’ll be excited just to be coached hard. Any good player wants to be coached and I told them that I promised to do that and to push them and I think that’s what they want.”
From a logistical standpoint, Barry benefits from the fact that both teams play all of their regular season games at the same sites. Barry will retain members of her staff on the girls’ team, and will have the opportunity to hire assistant coaches for the boys’ program.
Barry acknowledged that the additional demands on her time would be a challenge, but expressed confidence in her ability to meet them. “There will be a lot more on my plate than last year,” Barry said. “I think that will be the harder part for both of these groups of kids to swallow than my gender.”
“I told the guys that I wouldn’t have taken this on and be standing in front of you if I didn’t think we could do it,” she added. “I have confidence that it will be great for everyone involved. It’s going to take a lot more time on my part, but it’s a lot of business as usual with everybody else in the program.”