The first time Eddie Barnes visited Tallahassee Community College’s Bill Hebrock Eagledome, he was actually the head coach of Wallace State (Dothan, Ala.) Community College.
On Nov. 22, 1991, Barnes and the Lions walked into the Eagledome for TCC’s first-ever home game, and beat the Eagles 80-79 on a buzzer-beater.
Saturday night — almost 24 years later, 14 spent as the head coach at TCC — Barnes coached his final game at the Eagledome, this time as the head coach of the Eagles.
Barnes’ team made sure his final game at the Eagledome was just as successful as his first. The Eagles roared back after being down double-digits in the second half and dropped the Gulf Coast State College Commodores in a 74-70 home thriller.
“It was just amazing,” Barnes said after the win.
“The kids got down in the first half and things didn’t really seem to be going our way. We were kind of on our heels. I just challenged them at halftime and in the second half they responded. This is a team that has been either very good or very bad. This was a tale of two halves. I’m just appreciative of the effort.”
Dirk Williams, who led the Eagles with 25 points, said the team wanted to make sure Barnes got one final win in Tallahassee before the end of the season. The Eagles were down 43-28 at halftime.
“It was pretty big,” Williams said.
“We just didn’t want him to end his last home game with a loss. We talked at halftime and said we needed to pick up it up. This was a big win.”
Before the game, Barnes was honored by TCC President Jim Murdaugh, vice president for student affairs Sally Search and the school’s athletic director Rob Chaney. Barnes and his wife Judy Barnes received a standing ovation from the crowd after Murdaugh congratulated Barnes on his 200-plus wins with the school.
Barnes now has 274 wins with TCC.
“I’m just trying to make a difference in young peoples’ lives,” he said.
“We’re really just focused on them. We want to win and I feel the by-product of what we do is about winning. It’s all about trying to help people find themselves and try and become successful later on in life.”
Chaney held back tears while describing what Barnes has meant to Tallahassee Community College. After the game, about 50 fans stayed to shake hands with Barnes, whose daughter and son also attended Saturday’s game.
“So many lives have been touched over the course of your career,” Chaney said to Barnes before Saturday’s game.
“You’ve been a teacher, coach, mentor and friend to individuals across the country. Your contributions have changed the lives of so many. Congratulations on a memorable 40-year career and thank you for all you’ve done for Tallahassee Community College Athletics.”
Barnes said he’s focused on building long-lasting friendships throughout his career. Those friendships were on full display Saturday night as several Dothan community members came to his final home game.
“It’s amazing here,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of lifelong friends who came in from Dothan and from Orlando just to be here. One of the things my wife and I talk about is having friends. We’ve had a small family for most of our lives and we’ve built a family around our friends. We just appreciate them making the effort to be here tonight.”
Barnes’ coaching career
- 274 wins at Tallahassee Community College
- Winningest active coach in FCSAA
- Five FCSAA Tournament appearances
- Two FCSAA Tournament championships (2006, 2011)
- 2006 NJCAA National Championship runner-up
- 2006 Junior College Coach of the Year