No slowing down for ‘Bobby Speed’ |

No slowing down for ‘Bobby Speed’

Mike Vidakovich
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Sumitted photo

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” When Bob Barrows was in high school, he made a habit of coming home late at night and waking up his mom.

“My mom always had a rule with us kids that if we came home after she was in bed, we had to wake her up and let her know we were home,” Barrows said.

Sharon Barrows was never too concerned about the late arrivals of her son. Even though he wasn’t in the house, she knew, more than likely, he was at his second home.

“Mom didn’t worry about me because she knew where I was. We played hoops at Strawberry (Sayre) Park until the lights would shut off at 10 p.m.,” said Barrows. “Strawberry Park took care of me.”

Barrows’ affinity for the asphalt courts just east of Grand Avenue helped him to become a member of the Glenwood Demon varsity basketball team from 1980-1982. The slippery-quick point guard, who was nicknamed “Bobby Speed,” landed a spot as a Class 2A first team all-state selection in 1982 and earned a scholarship offer from Mesa State College in Grand Junction.

“I had a wonderful experience at Mesa, wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” said Barrows, who was the starting point guard for the Mavericks during his sophomore through senior seasons and set the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference career assist record during his final season of play. “I learned a lot playing for (coach) Doug Schakel. The adversity I went through enabled me to be successful in my coaching and educational career.”

From player to coach

Following his playing days at Mesa, Barrows did his student teaching and coaching under his old high school coach, Bob Chavez, at Glenwood High School. He earned his degree in physical education from Mesa in 1987.

“I wanted to be a teacher and a basketball coach,” said Barrows.

The young graduate didn’t have to wait long for his first opportunity.

Platte Valley High School, located in Kersey, needed a boys basketball coach and its middle school needed a PE teacher. It made no difference to Barrows that the Platte Valley Bronco basketball team had not won a game in nearly three seasons; he was up for the challenge.

Barrows not only helped the Broncos end their victory drought his first season at the helm, he also led them to a regional championship in 1993.

With all five starters from the ’93 squad returning for the next season and the program on solid ground, Barrows had no intentions of going anywhere. Then he received a call that summer from the athletic director at Littleton High School. The tradition-rich basketball school needed a new coach to head their boys program. They also needed a dean of students.

After much thought, Barrows accepted the position, but was unsure as to how he would fare going from a PE position into the administration office.

“I never thought I would get into administration. It certainly wasn’t a goal of mine,” said Barrows. “I was in charge of discipline, attendance and special education for over 1,400 students.”

Stepping away from the game

After four seasons of coaching basketball at Littleton, Barrows resigned, stepping away from the game that had been such a big part of his life for so long. He was enjoying his duties as the dean of students and wanted to focus more on his academic responsibilities at the school.

Spending his evenings and summers taking graduate classes, Barrows earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Denver in 1997. He was promoted to assistant principal at Littleton that same year, a position he held until he was named principal at Englewood High School in 2001.

At age 33, Barrows was in charge of his own school and enjoying the challenges that came with each new day.

“I was treated like a king at Englewood,” said Barrows. “The kids and parents were so great there. I was very blessed. Leaving all the places I’ve been has been hard.”

With opportunity knocking once again, Barrows left Englewood in 2006 for a job in central administration in the Jefferson County School District. Barrows is now the director of exceptional student services for the south and mountain areas of the largest school district in the state.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Barrows is handling the busy hours of a new job and helping to raise a family.

“I’ve felt blessed through all the different transitions in my life. I have a great job and three kids that are so special. They’re the ultimate,” said Barrows.

Hoops gone but not forgotten

With his hectic lifestyle not leaving much in the way of free time, Barrows still manages to make a trip to Norman, Okla., most Saturdays during football season to watch his beloved Oklahoma Sooners play. Born in Guthrie, Okla., Barrows has vivid memories of his boyhood going to Owen Field to watch the great teams of Bud Wilkinson.

“I started going to Sooner football games when I was five years old. My dad and I still get together every year and drive down to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to watch Oklahoma play Texas,” said Barrows.

His family, career, and college football are the mainstays of his life now, but Barrows still has a prominent spot in his heart for a round ball, a basketball court, and the friends who helped him along life’s way.

“When I was a kid playing basketball at Strawberry Park, I felt like the luckiest boy alive. I was befriended by all the older players that I looked up to. People like Kevin Schenkelberg, Rick Eccher, Kevin Flohr and Scotty Bolitho,” Burrows said. “I was shepherded into the basketball world and helped by some really good people. Those memories will never leave me.”

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