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Search puts players first

Barry Search has a simple philosophy about coaching that’s not directly related to anything that happens on the field. He uses the approach as an assistant football coach. He used it as an assistant softball coach. And he now uses it as a head softball coach at Parkland High School.

“The whole thing about softball is that it’s all about the kids,” said Search in his acceptance speech to the Lehigh Valley softball Hall of Fame. “That’s what we’re here for, to support them and I have been very fortunate to have some really wonderful players. They have worked tirelessly.”

He also is quick to introduce a couple of non-softball lessons to his players.

It was just after a team practice a couple springs ago when Barry Search interrupted his speech to the team with a key question.

“What kind of clouds are those and what do they mean?” His team quickly responded “cirrocumulus with a mackerel sky.”

Search confirmed the answer and added that because they are a sign of impending rain, be on the lookout for news about practice the next day because it might have to be moved indoors or canceled.

“We do bird-watching. We do weather. We do everything,” said Search. “That’s the thing - even with football - it’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about the rapport you build with kids. That’s what coaching is all about. That’s what it should be about.”

While his rapport with players isn’t built on the strategies of the game, the fact that he does have such a strong rapport with them likely makes them perform at higher levels than they might otherwise be able to. After all, playing for someone you like and respect means a lot on the field.

Search has the type of personality that allows him to relate to a much younger audience. He refuses to speak down to his players, whether as an assistant football coach or the coach of the softball team. He treats them with respect and credits them for their achievements. After games, he is quick to put his players in the media spotlight so they can get the credit, rather than take away from anything they accomplished during the game.

“I just always believe that these kids are the ones putting in the work, not just in practice and games, but doing the right things to prepare for games,” said Search. “I just sit on the side and support them, cheer them on and do what I can to help them be successful. Their workload is a lot tougher than mine, so why should I speak for them.”

At 71, Search, who is a retired biology teacher at Parkland and is currently the Assistant Chief of the Woodlawn Fire Department, doesn’t appear ready to slow down. He’s got a wife and family that support him in his endeavors and he hasn’t lost even a small part of the passion that he has for working with kids.

“I’m going to keep going for as long as I can, as long as I have health,” said Search when asked about his future coaching plans. “It’s like somebody said, ‘as long as we get up in the morning and as long as we can make it, it’s a good day.’ That’s my philosophy with coaching; as long as I can do it, I will.”

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Parkland softball head coach Barry Search has been coaching at Parkland for 45 years, including 30 years with the softball team and 10 years as its head coach.