The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 25, 2014

Mankato East coaches coming and going

Barger resigns girls basketball position; Madson back with boys

One coach is going, and another is returning at Mankato East.

Mike Barger, who has been the Cougars' girls basketball coach for eight years, has resigned to spend more time with his family.

"Family comes first," Barger said. "My wife (Sandy) has done a lot of stuff behind the scenes that has allowed me to do this for eight years."

Barger has two sons, Braden, 9, and Benett, 5, and his oldest son starts traveling basketball next year. Though he's not sure if he'll coach the youth team, he will be at all the games.

"I can't do both 100 percent," he said. "So I have to pick one, and that's family."

Barger's record at East was 103-113, with two Big Nine Conference championships and two runner-up finishes in the section. In the last four seasons, the Cougars were 81-32, 56-15 in the conference.

"I'll miss the girls," Barger said. "We've had some really good athletes come through the program. They're fun kids who come to practice ready to work. I'll miss coaching the games, and the halftime adjustments, but family is first."

Barger also coaches eighth-grade football, and he had coached in the baseball program until this spring.

"I may get back into coaching when the kids are gone," he said. "But that's a long way off."

Meanwhile, Joe Madson will return to the boys basketball program. He took off last year to watch his son Jordan Sandmeyer play his junior season at St. James, which went 21-6.

"I knew it was going to be hard being away," Madson said. "I said it would be one or two years. When you've been around basketball, which is my passion, for as many years as I have been, you miss it. I know I made the right choice, and (Jordan) enjoyed it, too. You get a different perspective as a parent than a coach, and I think coach (Steve) Walker did a great job."

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