Barnes wanted to spend more time with her girls Charlie (age 4) and Cora (age 2), and that was becoming more difficult with her coaching volleyball and husband Travis coaching softball and both Warrior basketball teams.
But before distancing herself from the sport she’s been playing and coaching most of her life at Cherokee County, Barnes wasn’t going to step down until she made sure the Lady Warriors were going to be in good hands.
Enter another former Lady Warrior standout in Leah Monteith Goss.
Monteith Goss had just recently returned to Centre and was looking to get involved again with the athletic program.
An interview with Cherokee County High School principal Doug Davis turned into Monteith Goss becoming the Lady Warriors' new volleyball coach. The move became official on Monday at the Cherokee County Board of Education meeting.
“I’m very excited,” Monteith Goss said. “Cherokee County means a lot to me. That’s where I’m from. It’s where I got my start. Having the opportunity to give back to that community is very important to me. It’s very important to me to see the girls program continue to get better and better.”
Davis said he’s glad to have found someone of Monteith Goss’ character to take over the Lady Warrior volleyball program from Barnes.
“I think we’re really getting a good coach and quality person,” he said. “I think she’ll come in and mix well with the community and the school.
“Coach Amy had a very successful program that had done well over the years, and she hated to give it up. She really loves volleyball and loves being around the girls, but family and things like that come first. This is one of those times. When you’ve got children as young as they are, somebody’s got to be at home with them, and I truly understand that.”
Most people around the area recall Monteith Goss as a basketball standout for the Lady Warriors in the early 1990s, where she led Cherokee County to the 1991-92 and 1992-93 Class 4A state championships. She was named the 1993 Alabama Sportswriters Association Miss Basketball winner and The Birmingham News’ 1993 Player of the Year. She was also named Class 4A MVP of the 1993 state tournament and set a state record for most points (29, 30, 34) in three Class 4A state tournament games.
Following her outstanding high school career, Monteith Goss earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Alabama, where she was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 1994 Final Four team. She was also a member of Alabama’s 1995, 1996 and 1997 Sweet 16 teams and was selected to the 1997 Associated Press Honorable Mention team.
After her college career, Monteith Goss coached volleyball at Saks High School and led the Lady Wildcats to the 2006 Class 4A state championship with a win over area rival Jacksonville.
That same year, Monteith Goss was selected to the Cherokee County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Barnes said she’s comfortable with turning over the Lady Warrior program to Monteith Goss.
“I have looked up to Leah my whole sports career,” said Barnes, who will remain a teacher at Centre Elementary School. “I was actually playing middle school ball and high school basketball when she was at Alabama. Her mom and her stepdad took me and my younger sister to a lot of her games. I got to see her play and meet Alabama’s team. It was great for me. I loved it. I really respect Leah as a person and a coach. It makes my decision a little bit easier.”
Monteith Goss has been vacationing in Oregon and hasn’t had a chance to formally meet with the Lady Warrior volleyball players yet.
However, she has talked with Barnes, and the Lady Warriors are scheduled to have a camp Monday through Wednesday.
“That’s going to really give me an opportunity to come and observe them working through the camp and get to know them,” Monteith Goss said. “I think that’s a perfect situation rather than just jumping in and trying to get to know them while we’re practicing.”
Barnes said she’s going to miss coaching the Lady Warriors, but feels they’re in good hands with Monteith Goss.
“It’s been a good seven years,” Barnes said. “We had ups and downs like a lot of programs do. My goal was to try and get our program back to where we were a dominant team. At times, I felt like my teams performed that way, but we just didn’t do it on a consistent basis.
“I think the group of girls Leah is going to have this time is probably the most athletic group we’ve had. Overall, I felt like even though I didn’t meet my goal of going back to the state tournament, having a winning record and being ranked was a good success.”