Coach Joe Gilbert, Barnsdall, Dead at 87

Mike Seals - July 13, 2020 10:29 pm

High school sports’ winningest coach, Joe Gilbert, had six decades of impact at Oklahoma’s Barnsdall

Joe Gilbert, who spent 66 years coaching numerous sports at Barnsdall and amassed nearly 4,000 total wins during his tenure, died Monday morning. He was 87.

He claimed 3,912 victories: 1,140 in fastpitch, 922 in girls basketball, 801 in baseball, 649 in boys basketball, 395 in slowpitch and five in football. He coached only girls basketball last season and planned to return for his 67th year.

He won two state titles: 1980 in baseball and 2012 in fastpitch softball.

He was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2019.

“His legacy is just the thousands of people he has touched,” Barnsdall boys basketball coach Wade Corder said. “This whole town has roots with Gilbert. Grandparents, parents and these kids who have came up. He really bought into the community and everybody bought into him.

“Staying for 66 years here shows a lot about who he was, his loyalty, and what he stood for. He always said, ‘Sports is sports,’ no matter what level you’re at.”

Gilbert was born in Buffalo, Missouri, near Springfield. He attended Northeastern State in Tahlequah and graduated in 1954. He then hitchhiked to different interviews and settled down in Barnsdall, where he spent the remainder of his life.


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