The 50-year-old father of two landed in Cartersville in 1996, winning the state football title in 1999. On Friday night, he will once again take to the sidelines of Weinman Stadium, directing his players against Buford. With the victory, he’ll coach the Canes — led by Barden’s son, Brooks, at quarterback — through a state championship game at the Georgia Dome.
For Barden, coaching was a choice made very early — as a senior in high school.
“[Coaching is] something I think is a calling,” he told The Daily Tribune News last year. “Coaching is not all glamorous, but if it’s something you feel like you have a passion to do, then I think if anything you should do that.”
Barden began his career as a quarterbacks coach at his alma mater — Habersham Central High School — before spending seven years as offensive coordinator for Stephens County High School. Prior to coming to CHS, Barden was head coach at Pickens County High School.
He has coached players who excelled at the collegiate level and several who moved on to play in the NFL. But, for Barden, one of the most cherished moments came in coaching his two sons.
And if they follow in his footsteps?
“If they get the desire to [coach], then I think they should do what they want to do and what they have a passion to do.”
Name: Frank Barden
Occupation: Teacher and head football coach at Cartersville High School
City of Residence: Cartersville
Family: Wife, Tammy; sons, TJ and Brooks
Education: University of West Georgia
What is the secret to success for maintaining a winning record season after season?
A: Cartersville is a special place to work — the community takes great pride and ownership in their school; the kids we have here are very motivated and of great character.
You have said coaching is a calling. When/how did you know you wanted to coach?
A: I knew when I was a senior in high school. I had a high school that had great influence on me and the profession, as well as I love and believe in the development of young men.
Coaching student athletes, what do you see as being the biggest issues facing young people today?
A: Sometimes you think it is changing from year to year and then really it is the same for all of us — kids want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want someone to care about them, and they want someone to hold them accountable for who they are and who they are going to be.
So I have to ask, Stuart Chester or Frank Barden? Both names are synonymous with winning in Cartersville. Is there a little friendly rivalry?
A: Stuart Chester and Frank Barden have been together for the past 20 years; they are like two brothers. So to say rivalry, we would compete in marbles against each other and then fight for each other when someone opposes the other. The two are as close as brothers.
What is your most cherished memory of your coaching career at CHS?
A: I have to say there have been a many of great times — 1999 state championship to coaching my two sons — but the one constant has been the kids, the community and being a part of the Cartersville tradition. That is special.
What makes Bartow County special?
A: Cartersville is a special place; [I] have said this since 1996 when I got here. [It is] a community with alumni from the school and take great pride and ownership in their school, and it is a community of faith, a strong community of faith.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: Not a lot. I am a simple guy who likes to fly under the radar. I am far from perfect but one who lives by faith that was taught to me by my mom and dad; [I] love and believe in the profession that I have been blessed to be a part of.
Do you have a superstitious routine/ritual/talisman during the season? If you can, share.
A: Not really.
A: I am a meat and tater guy. Love vegetables — peas, corn and fried okra.
So, who will play Coach Barden in the Cartersville version of "Friday Night Lights?"
A: One of my two sons. They are bigger than the Super Bowl to me.