By Melissa McKeown, U.S. Air Force Academy
USAFA, Colo. – Sam Barber has been named the head coach for the Air Force wrestling team, as announced today by Director of Athletics Dr. Hans Mueh. Barber takes over the reins after spending the past six years as an assistant coach for the Falcons.
“Sam Barber is highly respected within the wrestling community and amateur sports world for his integrity, class and inspiration to his athletes,” said Mueh. “I’m confident that the program will continue to thrive under his leadership, especially with the experience Bart Horton brings as his top assistant.”
Barber joined the Air Force wrestling program in 2008-09 as a volunteer assistant, before spending the past five seasons as a full-time assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Falcons. During his time at the Academy, Barber has coached 11 national qualifiers, while also making his mark as a recruiter, bringing in one of the top 25 classes in the nation in 2012.
With more than 18 years of coaching experience, Barber’s resume also includes a pair of head coaching stints, as well as 10 years coaching at the international level. He served as the head coach at his alma mater, Upper Iowa, and at perennial DIII powerhouse Augsburg College (Minn.).
Among Barber’s recent accomplishments on the international level include serving as the head coach of the 2012 FILA Cadet Pan American freestyle team and the 2013 FILA Junior Pan American freestyle team, which both captured gold medals. Additionally, Barber is responsible for coaching Jesus Wilson, who placed second in the 1999 World Team Trials.
“With humility and gratitude, I am excited to accept the challenge of becoming the next head coach at the United States Air Force Academy,” said Barber. “I would not be in this position without the support of so many people throughout my career. I would like to thank Dr. Mueh and Mr. George Nelson for providing me the opportunity to lead the Air Force Academy wrestling program.”
“On the mat, the vision will be to produce podium-prepared athletes who live a championship lifestyle,” continued Barber. “This will directly support the essence of the institution: to build leaders of character in service to our nation in a culture of commitment and a climate of respect.”
What They’re Saying:
“We have without a doubt found the right guy to lead our wrestling program into the future. Sam is a great recruiter, teacher and mentor for these future officers to learn from. He understands our mission and how our cadet athletes fit into and contribute to that mission. I am confident he and his staff will keep us competitive for a long time.”
-George Nelson, Associate Athletic Director, Air Force Academy
“The Air Force Academy made a great hire in their selection for their new wrestling coach. Sam Barber exemplifies all the values that the Academy looks for in a role model and leader for their cadets: honor, perseverance and integrity, with a deep seated belief that he is there to help each cadet be the best they can be. Sam’s total commitment to the Academy and its value system will be a role model for cadets to admire and follow.”
-J Robinson, Head Coach, University of Minnesota
“The United States Air Force Academy made an exceptional decision in its selection of Sam Barber to be the next leader of its program. Sam is an outstanding coach and a wonderful leader of men. Sam’s passion for wrestling and desire to help athletes achieve their goals is unmatched. USA Wrestling is looking forward to working with Coach Barber and his staff as they continue to improve the program.”
-Rich Bender, Executive Director, USA Wrestling
“I am very pleased to learn that Sam Barber has been selected as the new head wrestling coach at the United States Air Force Academy. Sam has a distinguished history in wrestling as both a coach and administrator and is greatly respected by the entire wrestling community. I know he will do a superb job.”
-Wayne Baughman, former Air Force head coach