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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | VINCE KOWALICK / THE
COLLEGES

Barrett Gives Boost to Glendale Baseball

April 02, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK

Playing baseball always required an additional sacrifice for Denny Barrett. So has coaching.

But it hasn't prevented Barrett from making rapid professional strides.

Routine insulin injections have been a part of Barrett's life since he was diagnosed as a diabetic at age 10. Four times a day, Barrett reaches for a syringe--sometimes between innings in the dugout at Glendale College.

"I've been giving myself shots all my life while playing," Barrett said. "Through Little League and school and being on the road a lot. The players know. Sometimes they look over at me and it's the third inning and all of a sudden I'm giving myself a shot."

Seems only fitting. As coach, Barrett has provided Glendale with a much-needed shot in the arm.

Despite only two years of experience as coach at Chaminade High, Barrett in two seasons has guided Glendale from insignificance to prominence.

The Vaqueros (18-8) entered the week leading the Western State Conference South Division at 9-3 and in pursuit of their first conference title since 1981.

In Barrett's first season, Glendale was 28-15 and finished second at 16-10, the team's best since 1984 and first winning season in six years. In five previous years, Glendale won 14 games.

"I applied at Glendale with absolutely no expectations," Barrett said. "I was just a high school coach coming in and trying to build a program. It took a while to gain the players' confidence. And then, all of a sudden, we're in first place, which had never happened before."

Barrett's credentials were scant when he decided to apply for the Glendale position on a lark. He led Chaminade to a Mission League title in 1996 but had no college experience except for one season as a graduate assistant at UC Santa Barbara.

Barrett, 33, quickly has developed a reputation as a bright baseball mind and among the region's most charismatic young leaders.

Among three sons who followed his father as an infielder at Notre Dame High, Barrett played at De Anza College and Lewis Clark College in Idaho. His family ties remain strong. Barrett's father, Jim, as he did at Chaminade, serves as his son's assistant.

Barrett's goal is to become coach at a Division I college.

"Denny is a real personable guy who impressed us with his ability to communicate," said Jim Sartoris, Glendale athletic director. "Certainly, he didn't have a lot of experience at the college level. But everyone I talked to gave him high praise for building a program."

Barrett might have bided his time at Chaminade, striving for a Southern Section title to add to his resume before ascending the coaching ranks. He resigned before the senior years of pitcher Chris Gray and catcher Ryan Hamill, who led the Eagles to a league title and a 27-3 record.

Moreover, Barrett left a full-time position at Chaminade to become a walk-on coach at Glendale, where he teaches part-time and remains in waiting for a full-time position.

"I know I left the cupboard full," Barrett said. "But if I want to get to the four-year level, going to a JC was a step in the right direction. You ask the kids [in high school] to commit to you and they do. But then you have personal goals. I have a wife and a family."

Barrett's kinship with young players might be his best attribute, including relating personal challenges.

"Most kids are at a JC because of a negative," Barrett said. "They either don't have the grades or the talent to play at a Division I school, or their family doesn't have the financial [means]. There are enough problems out there. But I will say, 'Would you like to take this needle and give yourself a shot?'

"My job is to help them figure out what their goals are and to make this experience as enjoyable and as exciting as possible. These guys are good kids."

*

College of the Canyons, two-time defending WSC South Division champion and a Southern California Regional finalist last season, is trying to inch its way back into contention after slipping to fourth place.

Meanwhile, Coach Len Mohney inches toward a career milestone.

Canyons (15-8, 6-7 in conference play) won, 5-4, Saturday at Oxnard to leave Mohney seven victories shy of 300. Mohney has a record of 293-177 (.613 winning percentage).

*

Conference play takes a one-week hiatus next week for spring break. That should give WSC teams an opportunity to reschedule games postponed during a rainy February.

"If this El Nino continues ugly, there are going to be some people pushing the panic button," Mohney said. "Some people are going to have to play 14 games in 21 days."

Canyons has scheduled makeup games at home April 15 against Cuesta and April 20 against Moorpark.

The resumption of conference play April 13 will give teams three weeks to complete postponed games. Games must be played by May 2.

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