CHAPMANVILLE – What a birthday it was for James Barker on Tuesday.
Barker seemed to one day be destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as head coach of the Chapmanville football team.
Those dreams were realized on Tuesday night during the Logan County School Board Meeting as Barker was hired as the new Chapmanville Regional High School grid squad on his 35th birthday.
"What a birthday present," he said.
His hiring was widely expected but it became official on Tuesday night.
Barker replaces outgoing coach Rob Dial, who led the Tigers the last four seasons to a 21-19 mark before resigning in December.
Baker is the third generation of his family to become the head coach of the Chapmanville Tigers.
He is the son of former Tigers' coach and current Athletics Director George Barker, who last was head coach at Chapmanville for 12 seasons from 2004-15 and led the Tigers to six playoff appearances, including a Class AA state semifinal berth in 2013.
Barker's grandfather is the late Fletcher “Shag” Barker, a legendary former football coach of the Tigers. Both George Barker and Fletcher Barker are members of the Chapmanville Athletic Hall of Fame.
James Barker made the official announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday evening.
“First, I would like to thank everyone for the birthday wishes,” Barker said. "I say it every year, but I truly do have the best family and friends. Glad you all stood by me this year and every year. Tonight, I was officially named the 13th head football coach in the history of Chapmanville, the third head coach at Chapmanville Regional. I am honored to lead our program into the 70th year of football in Chapmanville.”
Barker said he's ready for the challenge but also takes the job with a heavy heart following the death of his uncle Raamie Barker, the sitting Chapmanvile mayor.
“I am also honored to be a third generation coach as my grandfather Fletcher 'Shag' Barker and my father George Barker have coached at Chapmanville before me. I take great pride in the history of our town, school, and football program. This announcement is obviously bittersweet with the passing of my uncle Raamie Barker who was always supportive of me and our family-as well as our football program. He was truly a great man, a special human being, and I will greatly miss his insight and wisdom in all phases of life.
“To our administration, thank you for this opportunity to lead our student-athletes, program, and community. To my former players, thanks for allowing me to grow and for trusting our program. I truly am grateful for your sacrifices and time spent building our program the right way. To our current players, get ready. I am beyond excited for this chance to lead our young men into this 2020 season and beyond.”
Barker is a 2003 Logan High School graduate and former football player for the Wildcats. He went to Logan when his father George was head coach of the Wildcats during that era. James Barker later graduated from Marshall University in 2010.
He brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table for the Tigers, being mostly the Chapmanville Offensive Coordinator in recent years. Last year, however, he moved over to Defensive Coordinator, trading places with Bo Berry, who moved over to the offense after being the Tigers' DC for many years.
Barker's last head coaching stint was when he was the head coach at Chapmanville Middle School during the mid 2010s.
Barker hopes to lead the Tigers back to the playoffs, something that had eluded Dial in his four-year run as Chapmanville went 5-5, 6-4, 5-5 and 5-5 in those years. Chapmanville's last playoff berth was in 2015 when the Tigers had home field advantage but lost a 42-14 first-round playoff game to Robert C. Byrd.
– Look for more on Barker's hiring in next Wednesday's Logan Banner print edition and also on line at: www.loganbanner.com.