Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Russo-Alright coach, thanks for taking time out. You know I've watched you coach and I've seen it pay off both on and off the court, but in watching you it also looks like you're having fun, is that the case?
Barnes:"Rick it is and I've been doing it a long time, I'd like to think I still have a lot to learn, but the fact is I do love coaching basketball. I'm in a profession where I've gotten older but the people I work with stay the same age and I love it. I love seeing guys grow and chase their dreams, but I still do love it as much as when I first started."
Russo-Obviously we see you entrenched in basketball all the time but what are some of the other sports you kind of really dig , I know when you first came in we talked about NASCAR, but what are some of the other sports you do like?
Barnes:"I like baseball,I love NASCAR, I love tennis, I like watching sports, I'm a sports person. I'm not sure when I'm through with this if I would make a great effort to go see games I'll probably watch it at home because I've been around it so much, but I love watching sports and I love watching people."
Russo-Coach you mentioned you like baseball when you got to the park you gotta get a hot dog. What's your favorite kind and what do you like to put on it?
Barnes:"I don't particularly like the real big ones, but what I love on it as long as I get coleslaw, mustard and the right chili and relish, I'm good to go all day long."
Russo-Rick you've been here a few years now, how comfortable are you with East Tennessee and Big Orange Country?
Barnes:"I am and I love it. It's easy to love a place where you know they care and I realized that early on in my time here that people love it, they're passionate about the Volunteers. I really appreciate their support since we've been here. We weren't very good for the first couple years here and even a year ago people weren't expecting much, but the people in East Tennessee, It's kind of like being back home."
Russo-Coach you talked about family, talk a little more about that and what role they've played in helping you become the man that you are today?
Barnes:"Well Rick I'll tell you, I got caught up in the wrong things in this business, vanity is a part of it and I got side tracked with the things that happened to me and I'm thankful God gave me a family that wasn't afraid to call me out that what you're doing for us we really don't need it we want a better person who has the same goal as what we have which is chasing Jesus Christ. It was vanity, I chose the forbidden fruit I said it tastes pretty good here and again, I don't want anybody to think I'm perfect because I'm under construction and I believe God works that with us, but the fact of the matter is I know it and that fact of the matter is I got caught up in this world and I could back and think if this is all I have, then I've had a wonderful life because on the other side there's a whole lot more and a better life and I want to experience that."
Russo-And one of the folks going with you on this journey is your wife who also takes pride in working with kids?
Barnes:"She does and I don't deserve her, she' been an unbelievable mother, great grand kids now but the two kids in our household, she deserves the credit for because she put everything on hold and her whole life revolved around that . She's a very caring person and when she gets involved with something it's full speed ahead. She's been able to get involved with Thrive Lonsdale and she loves working with those young people she's got that Midas touch. She's just full of love and she wants to share the Gospel that's her mission in life and I've said it all along, my family is my heroes because you need truth tellers in your life and often times when you love someone you don't want to tell it directly the way you should but sometimes you should be punched right between the eyes and they did that to me."
Russo-Coach I know you shared that message with your team,how receptive were they?
Barnes:"Honestly right before I came up here Jordan asked me some questions about things in the Bible and I love it, I can sit with him, I do love some of the things we've done here also with Scott Jackson at New Life Gathering and Scott's a Pastor there and Hallerin Hill and Chris Walker with FCA he's put together a great team here on Campus and a year ago what they did was phenomenal. With our guys they've had success, but they're looking for something they haven't found the total happiness that they're looking for but they know there's something more than just winning basketball games, it's an everyday thing. We talk about humility we talk about loyalty and we talk about respect and if they can handle those three things they are going to be successful in life regardless of where they go.
Russo-You mentioned Chris Walker, talk a little more about what he brings to the program?
Barnes:"When he came in there was something about the guy I saw right off the bat the more I was was around him I knew there was some substance to him. He's become a dear friend to me. He brightens up my day when I see him I want to be honest with you Rick, what he did for us, I want him to do for everybody on the Campus because he really made an impact. He lived the dream a lot of these high level kids have playing pro football and then he found out God found out he had other plans for him. He loves the Lord and he wants these guys to get to know the Lord as he does."
Russo-Tell me about the kids, not just the basketball kids who go overseas and take part in that VOLeaders program and really do good?
Barnes:"You know what's amazing and I'm glad you asked me that question, Grant Williams, It's changed his life. When he came back I'm not gonna complain about anything. He said coach I have one goal this year, he said I want to learn every support person's name , everybody that works in this building from the ushers to the custodians I want to know their name and them to know that I really care, but he came back and said that it really changed his life."
Rick-Now that's passion. Coach Barnes, thank you!
Barnes:"Thank you brother."