Amarillo High graduate Brianne Barker-Groth will lead Byron Nelson to the school’s first UIL state volleyball tournament. [Provided photo]
For the first time since 2016 there will be a Barker pacing the sideline at the UIL state volleyball tournament.
The name is Barker, however, it’s not the heralded Hall of Fame Amarillo High coach Jan, who retired after the 2017 season.
This time around, it’s her oldest of two daughters, Brianne Barker-Groth. Groth is in the midst of following in her mother’s footsteps, leading a Byron Nelson volleyball program to state for the first time in the school’s 10 year history.
“You always love to see your kids be successful in life,” Jan said. “Brianne has an uncanny understanding for the game of volleyball. She’s had it since she was little. She had it as a player, and now as a coach. She just has that knowledge for the game, and she gets it.”
Being the daughter of a legandary coach, Groth, embraced her passion for volleyball at a young age.
As a setter for Amarillo High, Groth was named the Texas Player of the Decade (2000-2009), was a two-time Gatorade Texas Player of the Year, an AVCA High School All-American, and led the Lady Sandies to two of their 10 state championships in 2007-2008.
Groth was far from done after high school.
She went on to be a two-time third team All-American at the University of Oklahoma, followed by a professional career in Puerto Rico.
“I felt 10 years of playing volleyball was like an internship,” Groth said. “Especially playing for someone like my mom. Watching her all of those years, it made me a better player and it’s making me a better coach. I watched how she handled situations, and I’ll still ask her for advice as much as I can. The coaching world is so different now, and she always coached with great morals, so If she’s there to help why not.”
Barker-Groth played at Amarillo High from 2005-2008. [Provided photo]
Groth may go to her mother for advice, but has made her own name in six short years of coaching in the Metroplex. Groth was an assistant on a Lucas Lovejoy team that won the 2015 Class 5A state title.
She saw head coaching success through her first head coaching gig at Colleyville Heritage (2016-2017), and is making a historic run at Byron Nelson.
“People around the state that know her, know she’s Brianne Barker-Groth, not Jan Barker’s daughter,” Jan said. “She’s made her own name. When I watch her coach, we’re similar. She isn’t in their face, and she teaches instead of yells. But, I’ll say this, she has another level of understanding of the game then I did.”
In only her second season at Byron Nelson, Groth has an incredible mark of 90-4, including a 48-2 record this year. In only four years, Groth is 165-21 overall. Groth says growing up in the program she did, and in an a competitive area like the Texas Panhandle is a big reason of where she is today.
“I think having that Panhandle grit has helped me the most,” Groth said. “I find it like a blue collar mentality being from the Texas Panahndle. I also feel you’re not born with grit, you learn it. I try and instill that wherever I am now. I feel it’s an advantage, and that’s how I teach.”
Groth and her Byron Nelson team play in the Class 6A UIL state semifinals against Schertz Clemens (44-4) at 5 p.m. Friday at the Culwell Center in Garland.
The winner will face the Fort Bend Ridge Point-Plano West winner in the state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.