USU Eastern head basketball coach Brad Barton dies at 31

Coach always said, "I'm living the dream"
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 3:05pm

Once in a great while a coach comes along that not only wins, but also inspires his players and those around him. Utah State University Eastern lost one of those coaches on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. Mens’ basketball head coach Brad Barton, 31, was found dead in his Price, Utah, apartment by police Sgt. Bill Barnes and assistant coach Brian Edelstein. Edelstein and the mens’ basketball team became worried about Barton when he didn’t show up to practice that afternoon and nobody had heard from him since Monday afternoon, according to the Sun Advocate.

Affectionately known to all of campus as “Coach Brad,” Barton achieved many of his life goals and did what he loved until the day he passed. In an article in The Eagle written by Shala Pitchforth titled, “Assistant basketball coach plans to stay in profession for life” the article reads, “He said he has always known that he wanted to play as long as he could and coach until the day he died.” He said when he was 7.

Barton played high school basketball at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. After graduating from high school, Barton attended BYU-Hawaii two years. He finished his four-year degree at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where he captained the 2003 conference championship team. After finishing at WSU, Barton played professional European basketball for a year in Switzerland. He then returned to the Utah and started his coaching career.

Barton was an assistant coach at Viewmont High School, where he coached the sophomore team and won the regional championship with them. Barton then moved to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah where he assisted coach Mike Ostlund.

CEU head coach Chris Craig then snagged Barton to be the assistant coach for the mens’ basketball team. After the Cinderella story season of 2009-2010, Craig left CEU for Northern Colorado University and Barton was announced as the interim head coach for the 2010-2011 season. After coaching the team to a 23-7 record, Barton was offered the head coaching position at USU Eastern in June 2011.

Barton said, “Basketball is my No. 1 passion,” this was certainly true. Anybody who knew Barton knew that basketball ran his life. He ruptured his achilles tendon recently, but refused to have surgery explaining that it would take him away from coaching his basketball team and recruiting. Instead Barton walked with a distinct limp, which was his symbol of true sacrifice and devotion to a team he truly loved.

Barton has one quote on his facebook page by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Death twitches my ear, ‘live,’ he says, ‘I am coming.’”

When John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach died Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “He wanted to win, but not more than anything … My relationship with him has been one of the most significant of my life … the consummate teacher, he taught us that the best you are capable of is victory enough, and that you can’t walk until you crawl, that gentle but profound truth about growing up.” Many on and off campus at USU Eastern feel the same way about our, and yes he is ours, Coach Brad.

Although many had their lives touched by Barton, some wished to share their feelings for him on facebook, along with others who knew him as their friend.

Chancellor Joe Peterson wrote, “We mourn the passing of Coach Brad Barton. The campus and community are in shock. Brad was an important part of not only the athletics program, but of the entire USU Eastern family. This was clearly demonstrated at this morning’s student meeting with over 250 students and staff in attendance. It was a real tribute to his influence.

“We will be providing transportation to the funeral in Ogden on Saturday. Plans for a memorial service on campus at a later time are still being discussed.

“Our immediate concern is for the welfare of our student athletes. We have provided grief counseling and other support services to deal with issues of personal loss. We encourage any who have been affected to make an appointment and visit with Jan Thornton and her staff at the Wellness Center in the SAC.”

Plans for the future of the program and coaching decisions will be postponed until next week.”

Starting with the faculty and staff of USU Eastern, Becky Archibald, director of dining services said, “When I heard the news that you were gone my heart was saddened. You will be deeply missed by many. May God’s peace fill our hearts knowing you’re in his care.”

Jan Thornton, director for Disability Resource Center stated, “Coach touched the lives of so many people. Words can’t express how much he will be missed.”

KC Smurthwaite, assistant baseball coach said, “Whenever I walked in the athletics office he always went out of his way to say hi.”

Susan Polster, The Eagle adviser explained, “Coach Brad was one of the smartest people I have ever met. His philosophies about life reflected the reality of competition, whether it be a moral argument or a simple discussion about its role in making great human beings. He said great coaches were always hungry to win. It was not about the paycheck, it was about winning with players that become family to you. His players were his family.“

Coach Dave Paur, athletic director said, “I remember our last conversation, we were just chatting and I asked him about the team, he said, ‘Coach I like my team …’ that is the last thing I remember him saying, ‘I like my team.’”

Eagle editors at USU Eastern, Valeria Moncada reflected, “Coach Brad was an amazing man, he always made time for everyone and anyone no matter who they were. He always knew what to say to students to make them feel better about anything and make them give everything their all.”

Jasmine Petit said, “‘You’ve got to be mentally tough boys.’ I swear he said that every practice. He didn’t have to ask you to give your all. You just did.”

Former photo editor who accompanied Barton to Kansas in ‘10 and Southern Idaho in ‘11, Scott Frederick added, “Coach Brad Barton was a blue collar guy that was everybody’s best friend. Anyone around Brad was family. Serious about his players on and off the court and serious about staying positive, upbeat and jovial.

His athletes may say it best though. Walker Gale said, “He was a true warrior for many different reasons. He always kept it real and found a way to help me dig deep and find something within myself that I didn’t know I had. He was a man of immense courage and discipline and was the most competitive man that I’ve ever met. With his passing comes great responsibility for our team, but now we have even more fuel for success.”

Dominique Lawrence exclaimed, “Coach you did something that only GREAT people do, you changed the world of those around you and as we go out into the world we will take you with us, and through all the people that you have changed you will be on every inch of this planet. I LOVE YOU MAN.”

Cameron Evans expressed his love in a quote from Barton himself, “‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do.’ The one and only Brad Barton.”

Jonathan Mills wrote, “I’m just sitting here thinking about the first time we met how you came and picked me up from the airport, how the first time you saw me play and told me how much you loved how hard I played and how I reminded you of me. You was more than a coach to me, you were my friend and family. I will never forget how we spent Thanksgiving dinner together with your family and how they accepted me as family. I love Brad. I will always think of you whenever I have a basketball in my hand. RIP.”

Nicholas Thompson added, “I would not be the man I am today without you. You taught me so much. I’ll never forget all the times we had man. You were one of my best friends. Every time I step on a court, I know you will be there. I love you Brad.”

John Morgan, former CEU baseball player said, “Coach Brad was a person that was loved so much and would anything for anyone, not just the basketball players. If you went to CEU, Coach B was your friend.”

Volleyball player Kasey Day wrote, “Remember all those volleyball matches in the BDAC? You, me versus [Coach Chris] Craig, Chels...we won. Thank you so much for the different outlook on life, sports, religion, etc. You are awesome.”

Another volleyball player, Alexis Adams wrote, “I remember summer school in ‘09 at CEU sitting in Nick’s [Thompson] room talking about life. You asked me what my favorite scripture was and I couldn’t choose one. I know my favorite one is now...Phillippians 4:13...I can do all through him, who gives me strength. You are an incredible man who gave strength to many. You will be missed, but never forgotten.”

I would also like to express my appreciation publicly for coach Barton. As the sports editor I spent plenty of time in Coach Brad’s office, probably more then I should have but he made me feel like I was the most important person in the world and the only one that mattered.

Coach Brad you will always be our coach, you will be greatly missed and always be appreciated by all of those that have had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with you. You always saw the glass as half-full and spread that throughout campus and wherever you went. Rest in peace, Coach Brad Barton, March 5, 1980 to October 4, 2011.

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