Barry Bauer, who serves as Watseka Community High School Athletic Director and Girls’ Basketball Head Coach, recently broke the school’s record for most basketball wins.
Bauer started his coaching career as a junior varsity/freshmen coach in the 1988-89 season.
Asked what drove him to start coaching, Bauer said that the head coach and principal at the time, Keith Baldwin, had called him and asked if he was interested in the position.
Bauer served as JV coach under Baldwin and then his successor Richard Reynolds for several seasons before leaving Watseka to coach at Fulton High School for eight years before returning to Watseka to serve as head coach.
“I learned a whole lot from Coach Baldwin,” Bauer said. “I had just got done playing college basketball at Benedictine University, so I knew a lot about the game, but not a lot about coaching. Six years of being assistant coach under Coach Baldwin and Coach Reynolds, I still use so many things now that I did when I first started.”
When asked what aspects of coaching he enjoys the most, Bauer said his viewpoint on coaching has changed over the years.
“When you first start coaching you emphasize so many things on wins and losses,” he said. “I probably fell into that also, but as you coach longer and it becomes more about the relationship with the players and probably the thing I like to see the most is the development of the players and the improvement as you go along. I enjoy practices probably just as much as I enjoy the games.”
Bauer pointed to having the chance to coach all three of his daughters when asked what some of the standout memories of his coaching career at Watseka were.
He said the first 19 years of his coaching career were spent coaching boys’ basketball and the last nine years have been spent coaching girls’ basketball.
“Coaching my daughters was a great experience,” he said. “That’s probably the highlight. We did make the Sweet Sixteen in 2019. That was a memorable year also.”
Bauer, who also coaches softball at Watseka, recently passed the previous school record for most basketball wins that had been set by his one of his predecessors, Keith Baldwin.
Bauer has 375 wins in his basketball coaching career at Watseka High School. Bauer’s overall career win-loss record, including his time away from Watseka, is 538-249.
Bauer’s accolades include several IHSA Boys Regional Championships and IHSA Girls Regional Championships. In 2019, Bauer was elected to the IBCA Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in coaching.
Bauer said he didn’t realize he was coming up on the school record for most wins in basketball until his wife, Jody, told him about it.
“We won a game the other night against Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin and the next night at practice, as we were concluding practice, my wife came in and she had balloons and cookies for the team to congratulate them. I wasn’t sure what the spin on it was and then she announced that I had passed Coach Baldwin. It was a nice surprise and it was real nice to be able to celebrate it with the players.”
Bauer reflected on what he has learned in his long coaching career.
“I think the longer you do it, the more you reflect back and you see how many wonderful athletes that you got to coach and the relationships with assistant coaches, I’ve had many assistant coaches here and at Fulton, and the athletes, you still have relationships with them. I’ve coached the daughters of some of the athletes I coached as boys,” he said. “The relationships with the players and the assistant coaches really are probably the highlight as I look back.”