Olentangy Berlin boys basketball coach Donovon Barrett poked his head out of the visiting locker room to check on the score of the junior varsity game.
Any other night this would have been an innocuous occurrence.
But on this particular Saturday night, Barrett was at Buckeye Valley High School.
Barrett compiled a 193-99 record over 14 seasons at the BV helm. He won seven MOAC titles, including four straight which culminated in his final season with the Barons.
Some varsity coaches find an out-of-the-way corner to watch their JV teams. Some – like BV coach Andy Gast – sit right on the bench.
Not Barrett. He seems to want to hide is nervous energy – poking his head in long enough to check the score.
And he was doing just that until it turned into something else.
People started walking up. Some were former colleagues and some former players. Others were parents of players that he coached along the way.
It became like a family reunion with a pretty significant gaggle taking up the visitor’s entrance.
“It brought back some great memories,” he said. “We had a great run with seven league titles and some really good players. I saw a lot of good people tonight that I haven’t seen in a while. I met my wife here at BV, so this place will always have a special place in my heart.”
He had a hug and a smile for those who wanted one. Scott Thomas emerged from the locker room and joined in the conversation.
“You make these relationships – whether it’s with fellow coaches or people in the community – that last a lifetime,” Barrett said. “The comradery – whether it’s coaches or people that you work for — it’s special.”
Then, current BV coach Andy Gast broke away from the game to join in the reunion.
Gast was on Barrett’s staff for five seasons, taking over when Barrett left to take the same position at Westerville Central.
Gast, who had three years of head coaching experience at Olentangy Liberty, cites Barrett as the reason he got the job.
“I have a lot of respect for Donovon Barrett,” Gast said. “He allowed me to come here and be his assistant for a number of years. He left the program in really good shape. I owe him a lot.”
Barrett had mixed feelings about the whole thing. He enjoyed seeing some old faces, but didn’t like the prospect of going against Gast.
“It’s not easy,” Barrett said. “I don’t like doing it at all. I coached against one of my mentors in the past. This was pretty difficult just because I was the coach here and the entire Gast family are good friends of mine. I’m very close with them.”
Barrett recalled the time his Barons faced off against Olentangy Orange, then coached by his mentor John Betz.
“That was the most difficult game I’ve ever coached,” Barrett said.
Betz hired Barrett to be Berlin’s first coach.
Berlin is still looking for its first win. But, after an overtime loss Friday night, the Bears had the ball with a chance to tie in the final 30 seconds, before ultimately falling.
“We have good kids and we have good coaches … and our kids are buying into what our coaches are selling,” Barrett said. “We’re putting ourselves into position to win games and right now that’s the most important thing.”