Softball has been such an integral part of Julie Barber’s life that for the past quarter-century, weekends off have been unheard of.
That was the kind of work ethic between the DeSales softball team and its summer program, the Stampede, that helped Barber build her alma mater into a perennial success in both the CCL and Central District.
“Last weekend was the first summer weekend I’ve had off in 24 years,” Barber said June 9, moments after informing her team that she was retiring after 15 seasons with the Stallions and 23 as a high school head coach. “Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about retiring at the end of the spring, but after losing this season (because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic) — and that was tough for everybody — it seemed like a good time to transition. We’ll have a new chance for a new coach to come in for this summer and get to know the girls and start off on the right foot.”
Barber, a 1988 graduate of DeSales, won more than 250 games, including the 2004 Division I state championship in the last game of a seven-year stint at Toledo St. Ursula.
Barber, who also played at Ohio University, coached at Westerville North in 2005 before returning to DeSales in 2006.
Her teams won CCL championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, Division II district titles in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and advanced to the state tournament in 2007.
Barber, who will remain the school’s director of enrollment, was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.
Among her DeSales players were her daughters Cameron, a 2017 graduate, and Jacqui, who graduated in May. Cameron went on to play at Ohio Dominican.
“It was tough telling my players (of my retirement). I’ve coached some of those girls since they were 10 years old,” Barber said. “This was an awesome opportunity.”