Hard work is nothing new for Anthony Barringer. The 28-year-old was the captain of the 2013 Warren Wilson College men’s basketball team that won a USCAA Division II national championship after a 7-10 start.
A refusal to be outworked is just one of the things the 2014 graduate brought to his alma mater as interim head coach last season, a season in which his squad earned a fourth-seed bid in the postseason tournament. Barringer returns next year but in a more permanent capacity.
Warren Wilson College removed “interim” before Barringer’s title on May 3, less than two months after he led them to the USCAA national championships semifinal round in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
“I’m really thankful that God opened the door for me to be here initially and now to stay here,” he said. “I’m so happy to be here.”
Barringer, a native of Charlotte, arrived in Swannanoa before the 2011 season after brief stints at Western Carolina University and Carson-Newman University. After a season playing basketball at the community college level, he joined the team at Warren Wilson as a player.
“I was terribly out of shape,” he said. “One of the first people I met was (former Owl guard) Rashad Ali and he was like ‘you’ve got to come here and play.’”
Barringer, Ali and fellow guard Ty Johnson were instrumental in winning Warren Wilson’s first national championship, beating Penn State-Fayette for the title. That success led to former Owls head coach Greg Neeley accepting a head coaching position at NCAA Division III school Piedmont College, which the Owls beat twice last year.
“If you would have asked me back then if I would be coaching basketball in the future I would’ve told you ‘absolutely not,’” Barringer said. “Coach Neeley left and Coach (William) Monts came in and asked if I could help because I had a good relationship with the players.”
Barringer became the director of skill development under Monts, who left after one season to become the director of basketball operations for Western Kentucky University.
“Once he (Monts) left, there was never any question of whether or not I wanted to take over,” Barringer said. “And that wasn’t because I had aspirations of being a head coach, but I didn’t want that senior class to have to play under another head coach that they didn’t know.”
Bringing the confidence that comes from winning a championship as a player to the head coaching position was important to Barringer.
“Confidence is everything in basketball,” he said. “If you don’t have confidence in your game then you won’t make it. And when I looked at our team from top to bottom there was nobody that we were going to play that had the pieces that we had.”
Those components came together under Barringer last year as the Owls won the most games in a season since their championship season.
“We beat teams by 47 (points),” he said. “We went on a stretch where we scored 100 points in four straight games.”
Barringer’s goal is to build a program at Warren Wilson that reflects the work ethic of the school’s students, one that competes for a national championship every year. Mentoring young men is his primary focus.
“At some point in time that ball will stop bouncing,” he said. “And I’m here to teach these guys about life after that point too. If these guys come here and don’t learn how to be successful in life then I’m not doing my job.”
His desire to have an impact on the larger community has been felt at Owen High School, according to boys basketball coach Chuck Robinson.
“Anthony hasn’t just done a great job with the program at Warren Wilson, he’s brought an excitement to the Valley too,” Robinson said. “I just think the world of him as a friend and as a coach.”
The Warren Wilson coach began working with former Owen basketball and current Owl Michael Pomeroy when Barringer was a college student. He has mentored current Warhorse star Ben Craig for several years.
“Owen basketball is like my second basketball team,” Barringer said. “They come out and support us and cheer us on. They’re so supportive of us. It’s important for us to support them as well.”