Monte Barrow talks leadership style, approach that evolves to meet student-athletes

Published 12:36 am Saturday, April 9, 2022

NEDERLAND — Monte Barrow hopes his coaching leads student-athletes to grow into productive members of society.

For the past five years, Barrow has been the head football coach and athletic director for Nederland Independent School District. Prior to accepting the role, he was an assistant coach for the high school for several years.

Barrow’s leadership style is much like a Friday game plan.

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“You have a way that you think you are going to approach things,” he said. “As they happen, you learn how to handle certain situations and what works and what doesn’t work. Some things are going to work for one kid and not another. You have to have a base, but you learn a lot. You have to stay open to evolving as you go on.”

Nederland’s Monte Barrow has been the head football coach and athletic director for the past five years. Chris Moore/The News

Barrow said the discipline required to be excellent at a sport often translates to the classroom and life if the students put forth the same effort.

While he said he wants kids to do well in sports, doing well in life is the main objective.

“I think there are places that, rightfully so, have people in their program based on past history and are trying to develop Division I players or to be drafted right now,” he said. “I think our coaches are on the same page. Nederland is not a place that has produced professional athletes one after another. We have had a few since I have been here. Our first and foremost is understanding the low percentage that are going to go on to the next level and the 100 percent that are going to go to the next level of life. We hope they leave here with a better knowledge of what it takes.”

Barrow said one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with how students have changed over the years.

“You have to stay up with everything that is out there,” he said. “If not, how are you going to give them the tools they need to guide them through those troubled times or good times?”

Nederland football coach Monte Barrow shows off the ring he received as the Bum Phillips Coach of the Year winner. (Chris Moore/The News)

Barrow said kids’ knowledge of the game has dwindled as youth participation in football has dwindled across America over the last decade. Many children opt to stay inside.

“There is a lot of times they don’t know the game before they get to you,” he said. “When I was younger, we were outside until Mom told us to come in. Then, she had to say it two more times to get us inside. Now, Mom is trying to kick kids out of the house to get outside. I tell our coaches all of the time to not assume they know certain things or terms. If they haven’t heard it on Madden, they may not have heard it. That is a big difference.”

Barrow knows he has done well when former students come back to see him.

“When they come up and you still hear ‘Coach,’ that is good,” he said. “The longer you do it, the more there are. You feel bad if a name slips your mind. Just them coming up and talking to you means I did something for that young man to come back and say something.

“I have had some that come up and said they thought I was too tough when they were here, but get it now. It would be great if they could do that right now. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith that the person leading you is going to do you right. I just hope they think Coach did it right by them and I will be happy with that.”