Tennessee Basketball Coach Rick Barnes Teaches His Players to be ‘Good Christian’ Men

By Nancy Flory Published on January 26, 2019

Rick Barnes is competitive. The head coach of Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball loves to win. His life once revolved around winning basketball games. But 10 years ago, he found Jesus and everything changed.

“I’ve made a lot of bad mistakes where I got so wrapped up in this, for all the wrong reasons,” Barnes told the News Sentinel. “I’ve seen it through the eyes of being a selfish coach, being a coach who was prideful in this and that. But now I realize that there’s such a bigger picture for these young guys.”

Living for Christ

A decade ago Barnes went from being a “cultural” Christian to actually living for Christ. That changed his whole outlook on life. “I mean, as the Scripture would say, [he] lived out a new creation, a new person — just much more peace, affection,” Barnes’ son Nick said. “He was a great dad. I had a wonderful childhood. But it’s just the anchor in his soul and just the perspective on life and work.”

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Now he looks at basketball differently. “I think the way he sees basketball now is not only win a lot of games, but get to pour into young guys and love on them,” added Nick. “I think that was always there, but now to a much greater degree.” 

Barnes hopes he makes a good impression on the young men he coaches. During a recent presser, Barnes talked about mentoring the guys. “I hope we’ve taught these guys how to grow up and be good Christian guys, men. [We] want to understand that this is all kind of fleeting, so we’ve just got to take advantage of it while it’s here.”

God Created Everything We Do

Most importantly, he knows his calling is to mentor the young men he works with through basketball. “It’s important because it’s what we do. I think God has created everything we do. I think He created basketball. I think it’s the platform that we’re supposed to use to be teachers and mentors of young people.”

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