Collected Wisdom: Joe Gilbert, Barnsdall girls basketball coach

Joe Gilbert hasn't always been a coach at Barnsdall, although it sure feels that way. Shortly after the Missouri native graduated from Northeastern State University in 1954, he was hired to coach a little bit of everything in the small town north of Tulsa. Since,
by Ryan Aber Published: March 9, 2013
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Joe Gilbert hasn't always been a coach at Barnsdall, although it sure feels that way. Shortly after the Missouri native graduated from Northeastern State University in 1954, he was hired to coach a little bit of everything in the small town north of Tulsa. Since, Gilbert has become a Barnsdall institution, winning more than 3,400 games in just about every sport the school offers. Now, retired from teaching for about a decade, Gilbert is the Panthers' girls basketball coach, softball coach and athletic director. He won his only state championship in 1980, leading Barnsdall's baseball team to a title.

“I don't think there's ever been a kid who loved sports more than I do. I still love sports. I spent all last week at different area tournaments at Skiatook, Claremore and Catoosa. I've got tickets to a conference basketball tournament in Bartlesville tonight or I'll go out to ORU to watch the big school championships.

There was never any doubt that I was going to be a coach. I just always thought I wanted to do that from the time I was young.

I went to Northeastern State to play football. Well, I was recruited to play football and wound up playing basketball also. I liked Tahlequah, Northeastern State University and the whole area around here.

I got out of NSU and went to Barnsdall and I've been here ever since. I kept thinking at different times that I might get a job somewhere else, but it never happened. I never did really realize that it was going to be my home for good. Just in the last few years, I thought well, I wasn't going to go anywhere else.

They key for me has been good health. I'm not sure how long I'll keep doing this, but I still enjoy it. I just like coaching, and I get a great charge out of it. Now, I just take it a year at a time. One of these days it'll hit me and I'll stop, but I've been lucky to have my health for this long and do what I love to do.

I stepped back about 10 years ago and went to coaching just one sport a season and retired from teaching as well. That's what really ties you down is when you have to teach as well. If it wasn't for that, I would've stepped away awhile ago.


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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