By Anne Marie Amacher
“Every level of my education in the Davenport Diocese was through Catholic schools,” said Joe Barrer. A graduate of Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf, Assumption High School and St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Barrer is a teacher and basketball coach at Assumption.
He attended preschool through eighth grade at Lourdes before attending Assumption High School (class of 1999) and St. Ambrose University (class of 2003). “I value Catholic education and wanted to give back,” Barrer, 30, said. “My parents did their part in sending me to Catholic schools. It was the greatest decision they made for me,” he said during an interview at the high school last month.
Barrer said he has seen Assumption’s campus ministry program continue to grow since he was a student. He credits his involvement in campus ministry at St. Ambrose University to his Assumption days.
While at St. Ambrose, Barrer was involved in service projects through basketball and campus ministry. He attended Mass on campus and other campus ministry programs. “There was a strong sense of community in the campus ministry program.”
Campus ministry and the people involved in it helped him to grow in his faith while he studied for a bachelor’s degree in education and physical education and played basketball, Barrer said.
Following graduation, Barrer attended George Mason University near Washington, D.C. He began coaching while in the D.C. area. Upon his graduation with a master’s in exercise, fitness and health promotion, he taught and coached at Brother Rice High School in Chicago, then taught and became a head basketball coach at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids. Then he returned to his alma mater in 2009.
“Assumption is family,” Barrer said. He currently teaches physical education, junior religion and a wellness class in addition to being the head varsity boys’ basketball coach. “It keeps me busy.”
He said since his days as a student at Assumption the campus ministry program has evolved and plays an important role in students’ lives. “Religion and retreats are more comprehensive programs today.”
Barrer instills in his basketball players the importance of attending Mass and keeping the faith.
He encourages them to attend Mass on Friday mornings in the school chapel with Father Maynard Brothersen, a retired priest of the Davenport Diocese. “We go as a group,” he noted. “We pray together and we play together. We help each other grow in our faith.”
The coach also encourages his students to attend weekend Mass at their home parish or with the team.
Several times during the year he selects a weekend Mass from among Assumption’s supporting parishes for the team to attend.
In addition to Mass, Barrer believes in participating in community service. Besides the Assumption service hours, he has the team give back to the partnering parishes by offering to do any work the parishes might need accomplished each fall. During the winter the team assists with Hand-in-Hand bowling, an activity for individuals with special needs.
“Assumption has helped in my faith development. There are great teachers and coaches who taught me and we’re giving back.
“I am fortunate to be a part of the Assumption family. It’s a very supportive place to be.”