Barclay Radebaugh’s checkbook balance totaled $13 dollars. Thirteen dollars left to feed his wife and, then, two children. $13 dollars to pay a stack of bills.
“When you look at men in The Bible, God always used a desert time to prepare them for the things he had for them in the future,” said Radebaugh, the new head coach of the men’s basketball program at Charleston Southern University. “This was my desert time. Really, honestly, it was the hardest two years of my life.”
The events of 1994 marked a turning point in his life – and career. Radebaugh and his family lived the better part of two years on 110% faith and little income. With his funds depleting and his faith hanging in the balance, the doorbell rang.
“We had a gentlemen come to our house, he owned a large construction company … he had never been to our house before and hasn’t been to our house since,” Radebaugh remembered. “He spent 15 minutes with us, we just hung out and talked. We walked him to his truck and said goodbye.
“We walked back in and he had placed an envelope on our coffee table. In that envelope was $500. God met our needs in miraculous ways time after time after time. We never lacked for anything.”
Radebaugh’s life took a left turn in the spring of 1994. After four successful years leading the men’s basketball program at Furman University, head coach Butch Estes announced his resignation. Soon after, Radebaugh, the team’s assistant coach, and the remaining staff were unemployed.
With no job and no prospects, Barclay and Hope Radebaugh attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual coaches camp in the summer of 1994. On the final night of the conference, Hope, an accomplished vocalist, took the stage to perform. Before she sang she shared her testimony with the 300 collegiate coaches, athletic administrators and their families.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” Radebaugh remembers. Little did they know, Hope’s emotional testimony and musical performance set off a chain reaction.
In the weeks after the conference, Radebaugh got a call from Art Baker from the University of South Carolina. “He said, we have a position for you on campus here at the University of South Carolina,” said Radebaugh. “You may not want it … it’s a graduate assistants job. Here I’d been a full-time Division I assistant coach and here’s a graduate assistants job. I said, we’ll come look at it. I immediately knew God was pushing me toward that position.”
Radebaugh accepted the job and began tutoring athletes. “Quite frankly, I went down there and was miserable,” remembers Radebaugh. ”One day, in my quiet time, God reminded me that he had placed me in that position and he wanted to use me in that position to draw student-athletes into a personal relationship with Him. I said, how? I hate it.”
Radebaugh built a team of Christian tutors and began educating student-athletes, combining academic and biblical messages. “Every night we had 200 student-athletes come into the academic center there,” remembers Radebaugh. “We started to see fruit from that labor every night. We started to see football, baseball, basketball, track and tennis student-athletes come to know Jesus.”
Still, Radebaugh yearned to coach again. After applying and searching for the right opportunity, he turned again to his faith for direction. “God I am ready for my coaching position,” Radebaugh prayed.
“I started applying and looking around and couldn’t find a job, so the Lord lay on my heart in June to go ask Eddie Fogler if I could volunteer on his staff,” said Radebaugh. “I said Lord, the last time I understood the word volunteer that meant without pay. God said, go volunteer, I’ll provide.”
Radebaugh took another leap of faith and in the Fall of 1996 he began working as a volunteer under Fogler. It was no easy task. His days were spent on the court as a volunteer and at night, “I did all types of odd jobs on the weekends and at night,” he said. “I was a janitor part-time, anything I could get to feed my family, then God met the difference.”
For two years Radebaugh remained steadfast. In February 1998 it paid off. Jeff Lebo, Fogler’s assistant coach, accepted a job as the head coach of Tennessee Tech. “He left at 11 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon in February and coach Fogler came in at 11:15 and offered me the job,” remembers Radebaugh. “So I went from an unpaid, volunteer assistant to a full-time assistant in the SEC for one of the greatest coaches. Only God can do that.
“Just to see God provide and allow us to have a position like that, it just totally changed our whole career,” Radebaugh continued. “God used that time to show me some things that I needed to change and some areas in my life that I needed to give to Him, to surrender to Him and allow him to use me and my position in the body of Christ, not to promote myself, but to promote Him. That was a crucial two years in my life.”
Radebaugh, a 1987 graduate of East Tennessee State, began his coaching career in 1986 as a student assistant coach and in 1989, at age 21, he landed his first paid coaching position as an assistant at Wofford University. One year later when he accepted the assistant coaching position at Furman, Radebaugh became the youngest Division I assistant basketball coach in the country.
By the time he accepted the head coaching position at CSU, Radebaugh had 10 different coaching positions in 15 years including stints at Wofford (1989-1990), Furman University (1990-1994), University of South Carolina (1994-2001), Winthrop University (2001-2003), Queens University of Charlotte (2003-2004) and the University of Miami (2004-2005).
When former CSU coach Jim Platt announced his resignation last spring, Radebaugh moved in. “There was just an excitement on campus,” Radebaugh recalls. “With the development of the science building, the growth of the campus … there was just a tremendous opportunity and challenge to build a first class program in every aspect.
“To do that in an environment that allows you to put Jesus Christ first and to honor God and for people across the country to see that we’re doing everything in a first class way for the glory of God sincerely attracted me to this opportunity.”
Radebaugh’s office overlooks the Fieldhouse basketball court. It’s the only window in the office. The walls are paneled and bare. The furniture is modest and the air is still and hot until Hope arrives.
Hope Radebaugh, the coaches wife and mother of three – Anna (14), Reid (9) and Sophia (7) – arrives at the office, carrying a new oscillating fan. After a quick introduction, Hope gets down to business, quizzing her husband on the day’s schedule:
Hope: Now what are we doing tonight?
Barclay: I meet you at Reed’s school at 6:30.
Hope: … and then we’re going to pick up Anna and then …
Barclay: … they’re coming over at 7:30.
Hope: (turning to me) We have a really crazy day.
You won’t see her name in the team’s media guide, but Hope is as much a part of the CSU Bucs as her husband/head coach. “She’s been a coaches wife for 17 years, she’s seen all the ups and the downs,” Radebaugh says after. “She’s very good about creating margin our life, she’s extremely important in the success in everything we do and she’s real good at making sure we keep a healthy balance in our family.”
The life of a college coach is demanding and can consume a man if he doesn’t keep a healthy balance between work, family and play. Radebaugh, entering his first year as head coach at CSU, faces an enormous challenge of preparing the Bucs, while balancing home life.
“That is my #1 challenge as a coach, husband and father,” said Radebaugh, “is to make sure those things are balanced. That’s very important to me. I know when I stand before Jesus Christ someday, that he’s not only going to ask me were you faith in the mission I called you to, but were you faithful as a husband and were you faithful as a father? And I want to answer yes to all three of those.”
Radebaugh leans forward into his desktop computer screen, studying every detail in preparation for November 18, when the Bucs open the 2005-06 campaign against the College of Charleston at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
As he pecks away at the keys, Radebaugh’s head snaps 90 degrees to the right every 10 seconds or so, as if it were on a timer. Radebaugh is scouting a potential recruit on videotape. He’s distracted by the players speed and energy on the court, a style you can expect to see a lot of this season.
“The way that I like to play is a little bit faster,” Radebaugh explains. “It will be to our advantage to push the ball up the court faster than they have in the past and to seek a shot in the initial break … that’s just the style I know and the style we’ve won with at the programs I’ve been with in the past.”
He inherits a team of 10 returning student-athletes, including five seniors, plus two new freshman and a junior college transfer. The Bucs are coming off their second straight losing season, finishing 13-17 in 2004-05. But Radebaugh insists that’s a statistic that does not accurately reflect his team’s talent.
“We have a talented team, but we can be an even better team if we can accomplish the fundamentals of winning,” explains Radebaugh. “We’ve inherited a group that got a little taste of success by going to the championship game and we’ve got to foster that and we’ve got to challenge them to want more success.
“Our theme for the season is … ‘Every Man, Every Day, Every Play.’ To me, that goes right along with our philosophies of the fundamentals of winning. Everybody on this team is important … we’re gonna squeeze everything we can out of everyday. Every play, every possession, every offensive and defensive possession is extremely important as we seek to win games.”
Radebaugh gets increasingly animated as he talks about the 2005-2006 season at Charleston Southern University. His passion is visible as Radebaugh shares his excitement. “I talk a lot with our team about two things: having a championship attitude, doing the fundamental things that it takes to win … and then the fundamentals of success.
“I say right up front, that we have many important things in our program, many things that are important to us … developing young people … but there’s absolutely no doubt that our goal is to win basketball games,” Radebaugh continues. “I expect to win basketball games. As a Christian we need to put our best foot forward in everything that we do – every thing matters, every detail matters as we honor God.”
Barclay Radebaugh reaches for his checkbook and smiles. He counts his blessings. He will never forget his desert time. But these are better days for the new CSU head coach. He is living his dream, coaching basketball and spreading the Word.