After 16 seasons prowling the Barton sidelines, Craig Fletchall announced his retirement Monday as the head coach of the Barton Community College men's basketball team.
Fletchall led the Cougars onto the court for 509 games, coming away with a 71% win percentage in compiling the most wins in program history finishing with a 365-144 record.
"I want to express my sincere thanks to all the great assistant coaches I've had, the hard working players, and a supportive administration," Fletchall said. "I believe everyone's support and commitment has helped us keep the expectation bar high as consistency at the two-year level is hard to maintain year after year."
The Cougar career drew its final curtain at the Region VI semifinals for the fourth time in the last five years, completing a 16-9 season and second place Jayhawk West finish for the fifth straight season and sixth in the last seven.
"Craig has meant so much to Barton Community College and will be sorely missed," said Barton Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs. "From the time he accepted the head men's basketball coaching position in 2005 to now, Coach Fletchall has shown exemplary leadership in guiding an extremely successful program, capped by a trip to the 2018 NJCAA National Tournament where the team finished in the Top-8.
"While being a collegiate coach for all the right reasons, Craig has positively affected hundreds of student athletes during his illustrious career as a community college head coach. All of us here within Barton Athletics wish Coach Fletch nothing but the best during retirement and in his future endeavors."
In the 16 seasons, Fletchall guided the Cougars to 11 campaigns of 20+ wins, including four of those winning 27 or more games. Fletchall's fourth squad won the 2009 West title, only placing below the top four in the standings three times in compiling a 186-106 (.633) record in the rugged Jayhawk Conference.
Known as simply "Fletch," the untold story to his career is the behind the scenes rewards of leading young men. From recruiting student-athletes looking for a collegiate opportunity to maintaining friendships following their playing career, Fletchall put in countless hours unseen in guiding academic paths and life choices.
On the court, many highlights stem within each of the seasons but none larger than the culmination of the 2018 season.
Receiving an at-large bid, Fletch returned to his hometown of Hutchinson in leading his team onto the NJCAA's biggest stage of the Division I National Tournament. Dispatching Tyler Junior College with an impressive 17 point victory in the opening round to notch Fletch's 300th win at the Barton helm, the Cougars knocked off No. 1 ranked 33-0 Indian Hills Community College out of the tournament with an overtime victory. The run ended on a two point quarterfinal loss to Eastern Florida State College as the Cougars finished among the final eight teams with a 29-7 record, the most since the 2001 season.
Selected as the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association (KBCA) Men's Two-Year Coach of the Year following that 2018 season, Fletchall will again be honored this June by the KBCA for achieving over 600 wins as a coach in Kansas compiling a 612-301 overall record.
Arriving to Great Bend in 2005, Fletchall inherited a Barton program dealing with department wide athletic sanctions. Tasked with not only rebuilding the Cougars on the court but retooling its image, Fletchall's first season closed a game shy of 20 wins with an 19-11 record, despite not having the chance to play in the post season due to NJCAA sanctions.
"I went against all advice when I took the job at Barton," Fletchall joked. "Dealing with the dark cloud over the program and College at the time of my hire presented many challenges in the recruitment and stability of the program. However, through everything it has been rewarding to work for a school and athletic department that rose from that dark cloud and has produced so many success stories."
Immediate future plans has Fletchall spending and enjoying more time with family. Away from the JUCO grind, Fletchall and wife Patty are parents to three children and a trio of grandchildren that he'll have an opportunity to coach and guide through life's challenges.
Barton will begin its search for the program's 12th head coach immediately.
Prior to Barton, Fletchall was the head coach at Neosho County Community College for five seasons compiling a 101-58 mark. In his final season at Neosho, Fletchall guided the Panthers to a program highest No. 12 national ranking before reaching the Region VI finals for the 1st time in school history in 2005.
Spending 11 seasons in the high school ranks, Fletchall began his coaching career at Hutchinson Trinity Catholic High School, going 40-9 in his two seasons and leading the Celtics to the 1987 state title.
After winning the state title, Fletchall moved on to Wichita Kapaun Mount Carmel for three seasons before relocating to northeast Kansas taking over at Shawnee Mission East. In his 6 years at East, his squads went 86-47 and posted a school record 19 wins in his final 1996 season, winning back-to-back Sub State titles for the only time in school history.
Overall Fletchall accumulated a 146-99 high school coaching record, earning league Coach of the Year honors at Trinity (1987) and East (1993).
Following his high school coaching career, Fletchall began his collegiate coaching as an assistant at Cowley County Community College in 1988. In the initial season of three years in Arkansas City, the Tigers won a program record 25 games only to better that mark in 2000 with 26 victories. From there Fletchall made the move to Neosho County before taking over the Barton.
Fletchall has spent most of his life and career either in the Jayhawk Conference and its surrounding communities or close by. A native of Hutchinson, Fletchall earned degrees at Hutchinson Community College and Fort Hays State University before achieving his master's degree from Wichita State University.
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