BY MIKE MARZOLF
Special to the Tribune
It’s Alan Clark’s turn. After serving four seasons on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Barton women’s basketball team, Clark has been promoted to the top spot.
Clark was named the new coach at the Board of Trustee meeting Tuesday. He coached under Trevor Rolfs last season and for Carter Kruger the previous three campaigns.
“I’m excited,” Coach Clark said. “I have been handling a lot of the duties since Coach Rolfs went back to just being the AD so in essence, I have pretty much hit the ground running already.”
He becomes the seventh coach for Barton in 11 years. That is something he hopes to change. He played for the Cougars in the 70’s, graduating in 1978. So for him, Barton is home.
“You look at the final four in the region last year and you have four coaches who have been at their school for a long time,” Coach Clark said. “Toby (Wynn) has been at Seward for 10-plus years, Todd (Clark) at Cowley for 10-plus year, Jon Ontjes at Hutch for eight or nine years and Coach (Brett) Erkenbrack at Cloud for 25 years or so.
“The common denominator there is stability. That is what we need here.”
Rolfs eluded to stability as well in his hiring of Clark.
“We needed stability. He is someone who is going to be around a while,” Rolfs said. “Ultimately he is a Barton guy. He knows the tradition of the program. And the girls love him. He is probably the main reason 70 percent of them are here.”
In a way, Clark already brings continuity. He has pretty much recruited all 14 players currently on the Barton roster. He has done a majority of the recruiting since the departure of Kruger following the 2015 season. With Rolfs pulling double duty as head women’s coach and athletic director, Clark continued to do a majority of the recruiting since that time.
While the program has been on what looks like a coaching carousal, Clark said the program is on solid ground.
“A lot of the coaching changes in that time have been due to the success of that coach,” Clark said. “Tony Hobson, Lane Lord, Chance Lindley – those coaches moved on to bigger jobs at four year schools.
“I’m not going anywhere. At my age I am not looking to move on. This is where I want to be. The program has a rich tradition. There is no need for big changes. I plan on sticking it out for a while.”
Prior to coming to Barton, Clark spent three seasons as the head coach for the Otis-Bison High School boys’ basketball team, taking them to the state tournament in two of his three seasons. The 2012 team finished runner-up and the 2011 took third at the 1A State Tournament.
He also spent several seasons as a referee in the sport, giving him knowledge he says he can use as well.
“Basketball-wise, I feel I have plenty of experience to draw upon,” Coach Clark said. “Not just from the last four years here or as a head coach at high school before that, but I was an official for 20 years.
“I refereed thousands of basketball games, seeing several different styles and ways of doing things. I can draw from all that experience as well and put it together in the way I think works best for Barton.”
Clark said the main thing from his time at Barton that will help him going forward was learning the recruiting process.
“I had not been at the college level until I got to Barton,” Coach Clark said. “Recruiting was the biggest thing I needed to learn. You have to establish and maintain connection with coaches in high school and at the AAU level around the country. You have to learn to work with international coaches. I think that was the biggest thing I needed to gain when I came here.”
Now with his team in place, Coach Clark is set to prepare for next season.
“We have seven kids coming back and have seven more coming in,” Coach Clark said. “I have recruited most of them and have been working this spring with the returning players. I am very comfortable with the program moving forward.”