One of East Texas' top volleyball coaches will take his expertise about 45 minutes southeast to Panola County.

Leven Barker, who spent the last five years coaching Pine Tree, is Carthage's new head volleyball coach.

The Carthage ISD school board approved Barker's hire Monday night and he signed a contract Tuesday to finalize the deal, he told ETSN.fm.

"It's hard to leave the kids at Pine Tree because they work so hard for you and have done everything that you've asked them to do," Barker said. "The program was up and going pretty good all the way down to the seventh grade.

"I like going and seeing new faces and building programs. Carthage has a volleyball background and it's time for us to get back on top."

Barker replaces Roger Waters, who led Carthage to a 30-8 record and second-round playoff appearance in 2012, which was his only season with the Lady Dogs. Carthage won the District 20-3A title and received a first-round bye before losing to China Spring in the area round.

Barker came to Pine Tree in 2008 after leading Mexia, his alma mater, to a 197-91 record in nine seasons, which followed a 70-39 record in four seasons at Crockett from 1995-98. He's won 20 or more matches 14 times in 18 seasons, including at least 29 wins in each of his final three seasons at Pine Tree, going 99-24 in that span.

Barker earned his 400th career victory in a 3-1 win at Lindale on Sept. 14.

Leaving Pine Tree was a difficult decision for Barker, who was happy with the direction the Lady Pirates were headed, especially considering strong groups in the lower grades.

But Barker's son Trever, who played varsity baseball and basketball for Pine Tree, graduates at the end of the month, and Barker's wife, who is originally from Tatum, has family in the Carthage area.

Barker, a native of Mexia, will also serve as an assistant girls track and field coach.

Leven Barker's Head Coaching Career

Record: 414-190
18 seasons

 

Crockett (70-39)
  • 1995: 10-15
  • 1996: 12-12
  • 1997: 22-6
  • 1998: 26-6

 

Mexia (197-91)
  • 1999: 12-14
  • 2000: 22-8
  • 2001: 24-6
  • 2002: 24-11
  • 2003: 19-14
  • 2004: 20-10
  • 2005: 23-10
  • 2006: 27-7
  • 2007: 26-11

 

Pine Tree (147-60)
  • 2008: 26-16
  • 2009: 22-20
  • 2010: 33-11
  • 2011: 37-5
  • 2012: 29-8

 

Carthage
  • 2013: first season