Legendary Cheyenne Mountain volleyball coach David Barkley steps away

Photo - David Barkley, Cheyenne Mountain--The Gazette Big Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year 2015.

David Barkley, Cheyenne Mountain--The Gazette Big Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year 2015.

In 14 seasons as volleyball coach at Cheyenne Mountain, David Barkley witnessed some amazing things.

Winning five straight 4A state championships - and six overall - along with 14 regional titles and 350 wins certainly provided plenty of memories. An .858 winning percentage won't be beat by many, either.

But those highlights can't compare to truly his most cherished moments on the court.

"The best thing about my time at Cheyenne Mountain is that I got to coach all three of my daughters," said Barkley, who recently turned in his resignation as Indians coach, a post he had held since 2004. "And all three did win titles while they were there, and that was great to be a part of."

Upon Barkley's arrival from Ohio - he started his teaching career at Cheyenne Mountain first in 2001 - the Indians had very little, if any, volleyball tradition. The former coach at Villanova and assistant at George Washington, however, changed that in a hurry as his team qualified for the state tournament in his first season.

By 2007, the Indians were knocking on the door, losing to Mountain View in the final. They responded with one of the all-time great runs in prep history with five straight state crowns, losing only one set along the way to Lewis-Palmer in 2012, then added a sixth title in 2015 with a sweep of Lewis-Palmer in another all-area championship match.

His final act - molding a squad with only three seniors and one returning starter while playing the fourth-toughest schedule in 4A - and watching them peak just in time to reach state for a 14th straight time might have been one of Barkley's finest accomplishments.

"Last year took a lot of energy," the 64-year-old Barkley said. "I mean that in a positive way. I knew it would be a tough transition year. We all worked very hard. After state, I gave myself some time off before deciding. It's not so much who I have on the team, but about how much energy I was willing to put toward it. It was time. Sometimes, you just know, but I'm leaving the program in a good place. There's a lot of great talent coming up."

Barkley's volleyball coaching career goes back nearly four decades and has run the gamut, ranging from high school and club to Division I and international.

He and his wife, the former Susan English, a four-year letter-winner at George Washington and member of the school's athletic hall of fame, are parents to daughters Ellyn (Cheyenne Mountain class of 2009), Emma (2012) and Mara (2014). All three played college volleyball at Penn, Presbyterian and George Mason, respectively.

Barkley had previously reduced his role after retiring from the classroom a few years ago.

"Since he retired from teaching, I kind of expected that conversation annually," school athletic director Kris Roberts said. "You hope, in the back of your mind, that it's not going to be this year, but I'm excited for him that he's decided to move onto the next thing. It'll be a huge change for us. Looking at his experience and tenure and the legacy he brought to the program, those will be big shoes to fill."

Now, he has walked away from both, but don't expect him to fade away anytime soon.

"I'll look for a job, not necessarily in coaching, but just something," Barkley said. "I'm not going to say I'm never going to coach again, but for the moment, it'll be a nice break. I still have a lot of energy and I'm very healthy. Sitting around is not my idea of a good time."

Former Lewis-Palmer volleyball coach Susan Odenbaugh, one of Barkley's main rivals on the court and friends off the court who stepped away earlier this year after leading her program to four state titles, said life obviously isn't quite the same once that decision is made.

"Your life changes a whole lot," said Odenbaugh, who still works part-time as a teacher and adviser at Lewis-Palmer. "You're used to coaching in the gym all the time, and I know David is going to miss that competition. This season away gave me a lot of time to go and watch and enjoy it without the stress, and to reflect on the things you were able to do during your career. It helps you appreciate everything you were able to experience."

That'll give Barkley chances to see more amazing things, just with someone else in charge.