OVERTIME WITH SHILOH CHRISTIAN SAINTS 1ST YEAR FOOTBALL HEAD COACH TUCKER BARNARD
By Don Lowe | Photo by Mark Strickland Photos
Shiloh Christian Saints Senior High School 1st Year Football Head Coach Tucker Barnard returns to a familiar place, where he spent time in various roles from 2004–11, including Assistant Football Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator, Co-Defensive Coordinator and Special Teams Coordinator, and Junior High Football Head Coach, as well as Dean of Student Development, and Attendance and Student Discipline for 6th–12thgrade. Most recently, Coach Barnard had been at Stillwater High School in Stillwater, OK from 2011–22, where he guided that program to a 55-6 record over the past five seasons, while claiming its first state title (Class 6A-II) in 46 years last Fall. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK) after four years of studies there from 1994–98 and graduated from Woodland High School (Fairfax, OK) in 1993. Coach Barnard and his wife, McKale, have been married 25 years and they have three sons (Carter, a junior at Oklahoma State, eighth-grader Tate, and seventh-grader Charlie). Coach Barnard says his favorite football movie is Remember the Titans and he has a great appreciation for Oklahoma State Cowboys long-time Football Head Coach Mike Gundy because “He and his staff poured into me and my staff at Stillwater and I will be forever grateful.”
What makes Shiloh Christian High School and the community of Springdale so special?
Shiloh Christian is special mostly because of the people. There are so many people in this school and in this church that love the Lord and it comes out in everything they do.
What made this the right time to come back here as the Shiloh Christian Senior High School Football Head Coach?
I don’t know what made this the right time. I certainly had no intentions or thoughts of leaving Stillwater, OK. So, from that standpoint, it was not the right time to leave. But I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be back here to try and add to this already great tradition of excellence and to give my sons the opportunity to be here.
What do you believe are the keys to sustaining the high level of championship-caliber football that Shiloh has enjoyed for so many years?
Our coaches must teach on an expert level, our players must perform near the top of their ability range consistently.
What are the biggest changes in high school football that you’ve seen most specifically here in Northwest Arkansas since your coaching career first began?
Ultimately the things it takes to win haven’t changed a lot, at least in my time coaching, in my opinion. In a nutshell, we must be skilled at our craft.
What do you believe are the greatest challenges in coaching high school football?
I think the greatest challenges in coaching high school football today are the same as they’ve always been – how we help our athletes get from where they are now to where we think they can be. The time, energy, prayer, and preparation that it takes every day to influence kids in a way to get them to do things that they couldn’t do before to help them do things they didn’t even know were possible.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments as both an educator and high school football coach?
My greatest accomplishments aren’t mine alone. I’ve been part of kids’ lives in a way that some have come to me when they came to a decision that they wanted to dedicate their lives to Christ are the most special moments. Winning championships and seeing the pure joy on so many kids’ and parents’ faces isn’t bad either.
What are some of your interests and hobbies away from the gridiron?
I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I like to play golf, but I haven’t done much of that lately. I really enjoy going to the lake with my wife and kids and spending time with them there.
Who has been the greatest influence from the beginning of your coaching career?
Lots of great influences. My football head coach in high school was Bill Pascoe. He taught us how to be tough mentally and physically. I worked for Steve Miller (basketball head coach) at Arkansas Baptist High School (now Baptist Prep). He really showed me how to love and care for my players. I worked for Head Coach Josh Floyd at Shiloh Christian, which is also where I met Gus Malzahn (current Football Head Coach at the University of Central Florida / UCF Knights and Rhett Lashlee (current Football Head Coach of the Southern Methodist University / SMU Mustangs. I really began learning how to be the best football coach I could be while I was here the last time, while just really trying to dive in and learn about techniques and fundamentals to help kids be successful. Ronnie Floyd helped me immensely as I grew in my faith. Watching how he led the church and us as employees, I’m just trying every day to live out his example. Mike Gundy and his staff at Oklahoma State have really helped me put all of it together … the coaching, the culture, and everything we are doing to try and be the best that we can for our players.
What do you consider the most rewarding and satisfying aspect of coaching high school football?
It’s been really rewarding when players want to come back after they’ve graduated. When they want to come back and tell us what they’ve been doing … jobs, families, etc. When they want to come back and be at games and come inside the locker room before games. It lets me know that they are proud of their time in our program and think fondly of their time with us.
What are the keys to your first Saints squad having a successful season, possibly winning another conference championship, and making a deep post-season run?
I think our relationships with each other … players, parents, and coaches, is a major key and everyone taking ownership of whatever their role is in the program can put it over the top for us.