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Barry steps down as North coach

He's back in the saddle, again.

Former national softball coach of the year Larry Binney was handed the reins to the North Medford softball program one more time Wednesday.

Sara Barry, a former player and assistant coach under Binney, resigned after one season in which she piloted the Black Tornado to a 22-6 record and the Southern Oregon Conference championship.

Binney, who recently decided he would continue teaching at Hedrick Middle School, will coach in an interim capacity.

Barry, 27, says it was a matter of priorities. She and her husband Brent, also a coach and teacher at North, want to add to their family.

The commitment to running one of the state's premier high school programs ran counter to that desire.

The time factor involved in running a program and the time I spent away from my daughter (18-month-old Alex) and family was too much, Barry says. I just couldn't juggle it all and do it well.

I decided to step down and let somebody else do it.

The pressures of coaching, the second-guessing and complaints that go with coaching didn't bother her.

But she couldn't escape the element of guilt.

When I was with the softball team, I felt guilty because I wasn't with my daughter, Barry says. When I was with my husband and daughter, I felt guilty because I wasn't at a 12-and-under ASA game. I was either cheating my daughter or the softball program. I had to prioritize and figure out what was best for both.

Barry talked the matter over with her husband Brent and reached her decision last Tuesday.

Things went fast from there, Barry says.

She shared the news with her father Rod Rumrey, a longtime softball assistant who resigned as head football coach in March, on Sunday. Then discussed the matter with school administrators on Monday.

The second most difficult thing was telling my Dad about it, Barry says. He was very supportive about it.

Tuesday night, she told her players following an awards dessert.

I could hear a lot of the girls go ?What?? underneath their breath, Barry says. It was extremely emotional. The girls were supportive, I couldn't have asked for a better response.

Barry coached one season at LaPine and Crook County before moving to Oregon City, where she guided the Pioneers to the playoffs her second season. She spent the 2000 season as an assistant to Binney.

She will continue as an assistant coach in volleyball and perhaps in softball as well. She's also leaving the door open to become a head coach again in the future.

When my kids are grown a little bit, Barry says. I'll still be young enough to take it on — if the opportunity arises.

Binney, 55, met with the North players, most of whom he's coached in past years, Wednesday morning and coached them in an ASA doubleheader in the evening.

The spring of 2002 will mark Binney's 20th season coaching the Tornado. He owns a 445-98-1 record, including outright state championships in 1984 and 1997 along with a co-championship in 1996.

Because of the timing, the school district was in a little bit of an awkward spot, Binney says. I told them I'd be happy to step in as interim coach.

We've always preached loyalty to our players and this was an opportunity to show some loyalty to a school district that's been good to me. I've been a 549C employee for 31 years and I'm happy to pick up the ball for another year.

Binney announced his retirement from coaching at the beginning of the 1998 season then did an about face at the end of the campaign and worked through the 1999 season.

Although Binney immediately dove back into coaching, he will still take a couple of trips with his son, Lanny.

They?ll go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., see the Yankees, Mets, a Broadway play and fireworks on the Hudson River.

One goal Binney has for next spring is to lead the Tornado to its 500th win since the program began in 1980. The current total is 489.

— this time next year, however, he plans to leave the diamond behind — one more time.

I've retired from softball a couple times and teaching a couple times, Binney says. I'm practicing so when I finally do it, I'll know what the hell I'm doing.

— Reach reporter at 776-4483, or e-mail