With the start of the 2019-20 academic year around the corner, the Sun will conduct interviews with athletic directors from its eight coverage area schools to discuss the state of each school’s athletic program.
The third installment is with Parsons High School athletic director Rob Barcus, who is entering his second year in the position.
Barcus also serves as the head coach of the school’s track and field team and an assistant on the football coaching staff.
How would you judge your first year as athletic director of Parsons?
“I thought I had a pretty good year. Luckily for me, I had a little bit of experience as a middle school athletic director. The demands at the high school are probably double, but I had a good grasp of what the job entailed. My schedule was laid out for me, so I just had to check off the boxes.”
You had to make three head coaching hires — softball, girls basketball and volleyball — what was the impact of that turnover rate?
“That’s probably a little more than most schools. That’s a higher turnover rate, a higher one than you want. But it was another hurdle. All three happened to be girls sports. The perception is that girls sports are down a bit. But we had success in tennis, track and field, basketball and even our volleyball program was competitive. It was odd to have three major girls sports open.”
On balancing coaching duties with athletic director duties...
“You have to work with good people. I have a good principal that’s been involved with athletics. If I had to work with a principal that wasn’t involved in sports, it’d be harder. The staff was understanding and everybody was pretty accommodating. That was to my advantage.”
What are you emphasizing to your coaching staff going into 2019-20?
“I want to always present our best face to the public. We want to keep the negative things to a minimum. Disagreements will happen, but to the public I want to provide a united front. Public perception is very important. I just always want to present a good side.”
What impact did the turnaround season of the football program last fall have on the school as a whole?
“I don’t think me personally or the public realized that once we got behind the football program, that set a positive note for the rest of the school year. The hallways were positive. Friday nights, it just created a positive atmosphere. Football is so important when it comes to school climate.”
Three of the major girls sports at Parsons — volleyball, basketball and softball — are expected to have rebuilding years. How do you foster an environment to allow for that?
“You’ve got to stay positive no matter what happens. We’ll be supportive of those coaches. We’re not looking at wins and losses, but we’re looking to meet other goals. I’ve felt for a long time that girls athletics are always overshadowed by the boys. I coached girls basketball for 11 years and the girls always felt like they weren’t as important. I want to change that attitude.”
What’s your take on how KSHSAA operates as a whole?
“What you hear about KSHSAA sometimes, and the actual truth is that KSHSAA is always easy to work with. They try to do what’s best for kids. Every time I’ve dealt with them, it’s been a positive experience. I trust them to do what’s best for kids.”
Personal goals for the 2019-20 year?
“I want my coaches to feel supported. You’re not going to win all the time. But I want them to have some peace of mind that I’ll still have their backs.”
Do you feel Parsons athletics are in a better place than they were a year ago?
“I feel it is. I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done. The success of our football program has helped a lot. Going back to the girls programs, they’re playing schools that are bigger than them. That was what hurt our football program a few years ago. Now the girls are dealing with the same thing. It’s hard to compete with those schools. I’m not making excuses, but that’s the reality.”