CENTRALIA, IL -- Coach John Barnes is in his first full year as the head coach of the Kaskaskia College softball program. A standout athlete from DuQuoin High School (1994), JB played collegiate baseball at Kaskaskia College (1997) and was an All-American at Greenville University (1999). He started his coaching career immediately after graduating in 1999, as an assistant (hitting) coach with the Greenville University baseball program. In just 2 seasons, he coached the offense towards setting many of the school's offensive records. In 2001, Coach Barnes, moved on to accept a position as a teacher/coach for Mulberry Grove (IL) CUSD#1. There, he served as the junior high and high school softball coach, as well as the athletic director. During his 13 years at the helm, the annually state-ranked, Lady Aces, produced 93 All Egyptian Illini Conference players and 16 All-Staters. The program compiled 416 wins, en-route to 6 regional titles, 4 sectional titles, 3 Elite-8 appearances, and 1 Final-4 appearance. Also during this time, Coach Barnes constructed a travel ball program, when travel ball was a new concept. In 2003, the birth of the Mulberry Grove Jaguars went on to win seven state championships and consistently placed at the national level for 9 seasons. At this time, 47 of his players had gone on to play collegiately, with nearly all of them earning scholarships in the process.
In 2012, JB changed professions and entered into law enforcement. To this day, he is employed as a full-time deputy with the Bond County Sheriff's Department and as a part-time officer with the Greenville Police Department. Concurrent with these duties, he joined the collegiate coaching ranks. In 2014, he was hired as an assistant (pitching & hitting) coach for the softball program at Greenville University. For 3 seasons, the program experienced a resurrection and totaled 77 wins, with a school record-setting 30 wins in 2014, when Coach Barnes had been named the interim head coach. Also in that span, the Lady Panters were 2-time St.Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, qualifying them for 2 NCAA D-III National Championship Tournament berths. Prior to his tenure at the univeristy, only once in the 30+ years of the program's existence had they ever been so decorated.
In the fall of 2016, on the cusp of the recent successes at Greenville University, Coach Barnes accepted a position as an assistant (pitching) coach with the national powerhouse, NAIA D-I, Lindenwood-Belleville University Lady Lynx softball program. With a National Championship already under their belt, the pitching staff went on to win 31 games that spring, but without Coach Barnes, who made the difficult decision to step away and take the head coaching job for the Greenville High School softball program. In association with the GHS assignment, JB was able to bring softball back into prominence in the Greenville area with the restart of his travel ball program. Renamed the SouthWest Illini Jaguars, the re-emergence has led to its current state of approximately 50 young ladies, covering 5 teams. The program has thrived for the past 3 years and thus far, has rewarded all of its graduating members by obtaining softball scholarships for the advancement of their athletic and academic careers.
Most recently, at the beginning of his 2019 Jaguars season, Coach Barnes had the opportunity to accept the interim head softball coaching position here at Kaskaskia College. Stepping in with only 4 weeks left on the schedule, the program responded in exceeding fashion, by winning 9 of its last 11 games. Coach Barnes is confident that his leadership and recruiting ability will serve as strengths towards rebuilding the program into a winner. Coach Barnes has noted that the program's culture has already changed for the positive. Since the process is ahead of schedule, he plans on the rebuild to be a breif one, while motiviating this year's squad to compete at the highest level for the 2020 spring season.
In the past 20 years, JB has trained hundreds of ahtletes. He admits that he takes the most pride in those that have furthered their education using the sport of softball as the means to do so. Being a man of Faith, he credits his successes to the good Lord and also to the countless people that God has surrounded him with. He knows that he has an incredible responsibility here at KC to impact the lives of his players and future players. Coach Barnes has been involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the past 15 years. He resides in Greenville with his wife Erin, and two sons, Jonathan (17) and Mason (15).
"You can know everything there is to know about this game but if a team doesn't have character, it will not win. So, if Character equals Winning, then EXCEPTIONAL Character wins Championships" -- Coach JB