Barry Garrett has been coaching basketball since he was 16 years old.
He started at the Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) league, where he worked with athletes from all over Durham.
“A lot of players that were on my team were star basketball players from Northern, Riverside, Southern, Hillside,” Garrett said.
Garrett coached them in the Junior NBA program at DPR during their sophomore to senior years of high school. One of these players was Shawn Herndon, a guard for Riverside, who averaged 18 points per game during the 2004 season.
Garrett first came to Riverside as a volunteer softball coach in 2017, and became close with a lot of the softball players. The women’s basketball program and softball program attract a lot of the same athletes, so six years later, he decided to leave his job coaching basketball at East Chapel Hill and take the head coach position at Riverside instead.
“The community [at Riverside], and the relationships I had with some of the softball players brought me here,” he said. “Coaching basketball and then transitioning to softball…builds that family dynamic, you know?
“I’m excited to hear there’s a lot of interest with basketball this year, which I heard wasn’t really a thing in the past given the history of the [program] record,” Garrett said.
He explained that girls basketball across the country is decreasing in popularity, making it harder to fill rosters and stands.
Last year the Riverside Women’s Basketball team went 3-22. Garrett hopes to change that. His first goal is to keep Riverside out of the bottom tier of women’s basketball programs.
“New drills, new plays, the overall energy,” he said.
Part of his vision for this season is inspired by his other work in sports. When he’s not coaching at Riverside, Garrett is usually working event management at one of the big-name sports programs in the area like Duke, UNC, the Carolina Panthers, and Durham Bulls.
“Because I’m a huge Duke fan, and I like the concept of the “brotherhood” at Duke (the Duke Men’s Basketball program nickname), I am going to try to re-brand to have a Riverside sisterhood,” Garrett explains. “Former players, if they’re still in the area, if they’re willing to come back and help, so we can continue that rich program.”
A sense of family is very important to Garrett, both on and off the court. He hopes to create a buzz about Riverside basketball that has been lacking in previous years.
“I want people [to say] Riverside is not the same women’s basketball program it once was,” he said. “It’s a complete revamp.”
Part of Garrett’s complete revamp includes the team’s social media presence. He has brought on a social media manager and plans to create a new logo specifically for the program. He has a slew of assistant coaches, some returning from previous years and others making their Riverside debut.
“One of the things that I definitely want to focus on is trying to get them into college playing basketball,” Garrett said. “If this is their passion and their drive, I’m going to give 100 percent into that.”