Retiring after over three decades was incredibly difficult for Brentwood’s Barbara Campbell, the state’s winningest volleyball coach.
“It’s torture, especially when I’m looking at these young kids in the program – kids I would love to see through their volleyball careers at Brentwood High,” Campbell said. “There are still a lot more games to win. I just don’t think there could be a year when you leave that there aren’t players you really do want to stay with and see through their high school years.”
Campbell, 70, announced her retirement Thursday after 33 years of coaching.
Her final season was her toughest after suffering a stroke on Sept. 29, but the Lady Bruins (38-3) persevered by winning their eighth consecutive Class AAA title less than a month later.
Campbell rejoined her team on the bench in the state-championship win at Siegel.
Assistants Angie Noble and Cathy Cram took over the head coaching duties after Campbell’s stroke.
“The cupboard is full, so it’s the right time for me to do this,” Campbell said. “I wanted to go back and resume my teaching this semester, but (my doctor) just didn’t want me to back into the coaching situation and felt like with a little bit more time that he could get me back to 100 percent.”
Campbell led Brentwood to 16 state championships. She departs with 1,765 career victories and was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2018.
Her “I want to win more than I want to breathe” quote has almost become the team motto.
Campbell is looking forward to spending more time with her new granddaughter, Nora Rain.
“I guess blood pressure is a concern,” Campbell said. “Not just the stress, but the daily grind. I think I can better take care of myself with retirement.”
Campbell also led the Lady Bruins to seven state runner-up finishes.
“Most people just dream of what we’ve been able to consistently accomplish,” Campbell said. “Twenty-eight state tournament appearances and we were in the finals 23 years. I’ve been blessed with outstanding players.”
She said success became “contagious” within the program.
“You’ve got younger (players) watching and they want to be like (the older ones),” Campbell said. “I want to be great like her. Volleyball has grown in popularity so much over the years.”
The veteran coach believes Brentwood will find a great replacement for her and all will be well.
Campbell never imagined her career would last as long as it did.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey that’s really hard to let go of,” Campbell said. “Just really hard.”
Former Brentwood outside hitter Shaye Eggleston, who graduated early in December, said it was difficult to hear the news about Campbell’s retirement.
“After the crazy year that we’ve had this year, I kind of probably expected it a little, but at the same time it was not disappointing, but it’s definitely a monumental thing because of the legacy she left at Brentwood and everything she’s done for that program,” Eggleston said. “Not that it was completely a surprise, but it still hurts your heart.”
Eggleston, the state tournament Most Valuable Player during the season hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, is already at Alabama where she will play college volleyball.
“They’re going to be fine next year because of the way that she’s prepared them and the way that she’s leaving the program,” Eggleston said. “So I think that her legacy is definitely going to live on. I think she’ll probably still be at some of the games.”
Eggleston said Campbell projects her “I want to win more than I want to breathe” mindset onto all the Lady Bruins.
“Everybody has to buy into that because you really can’t not,” Eggleston said. “I think that’s definitely what sets her aside from other coaches. She probably loves the game and cares more about winning and loves coaching more than any other coach I’ve ever had.”