Caldwell County’s Barnes battles Parkinson’s disease

The high school football season begins one week from tonight. For Caldwell County coach David Barnes, this will be a season unlike any other for him.

As he prepares for his 12th season with the Tigers, Barnes and his family are dealing with what doctors told him a couple months ago: he has Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that generally affects movement. There is no cure, but Barnes plans to attack his disease just like he coaches his football team to handle adversity — by marching straight ahead.     

"I don’t move around as good as I used to on the field," Barnes said. "My legs get a little tired toward the end of practice but we just keep going on."

That’s how Barnes approaches football and life: just keep going on. But when doctor’s diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease, it understandably rocked him and his wife.

"Obviously we were both devastated when we first heard it.," Barnes said. "But it’s not a death sentence. There are ways we can fight this."

Barnes considers Mayfield’s Joe Morris to be one of his best friends in the coaching profession. And Morris knows how his friend will move forward.

"David is a fighter," Morris said. "He’s always been that way. He’s a competitive football coach, and he’s going to fight to the end."

Doctors diagnosed former Murray State basketball coach Billy Kennedy with Parkinson’s back in 2011. Despite the disease, Kennedy has continued to coach at Texas A&M. Barnes has watched Kennedy thrive in the high pressure world of college sports, and that’s provided him with some daily motivation.

"You get up in the morning and you make a decision.," Barnes said. "You’re going to go on or stay in bed. I think Billy Kennedy’s decision was I’m going to beat this thing the best I can."

That’s how David Barnes is approaching his coaching career and his life. Could he retire? Sure. Will he any time soon? Don’t bet on it.

"I love doing what I’m doing," Barnes said. "I love being around these kids, coaching football and being AD here at Caldwell County High School."

The Tigers will open the 2017 season August 18th at home vs. Christian County.

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