NOTE: This is part of a series of biographies on the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductees. The HOF Banquet is Saturday, Jan. 27, at Kiana Lodge in Suquamish. Social hour begins at noon with the ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available by reservation at kitsapathleticroundtable.org. Biographies were written by members of the HOF Committee.
James Barber has enjoyed participating in many sports throughout his life: a decent tennis player in high school, slow pitch in the church leagues, hockey, baseball and small sailboat racing in college, and surfing, hunting, golf (shooting his age at Gold Mountain several years ago), and mountain climbing as an adult.
Perhaps his most (or least) memorable competitive moment was in a college hockey game against the Army Academy when he was checked and dumped over the boards by a cadet, resulting in a broken nose. When he asked his coach who the culprit was, he was told “Pete Dawkins”… the Pete Dawkins who became an All-American halfback, Heisman Trophy winner, Rhodes Scholar, and General in the Army.
However, it was through the sport of soccer that Jim provided the greatest impact on the Kitsap County community.
A 1954 graduate of Bremerton High School, Jim was exposed to soccer while attending college in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon returning to Bremerton in the late 60’s, he and his family became fans of the original Seattle Sounders and attended their games at the old Memorial Stadium. Jim noted the rapidly expanding youth soccer programs in the Seattle area and thought they would do well in Kitsap with the influx of military families.
In 1974 he proposed to the Kitsap Pee Wee youth sports organization that he set up a soccer program under their auspices that would allow the use of their fields at a time of year that would not interfere with their other sports (mid-winter). The Pee Wees agreed and the response from parents, kids, and volunteers resulted in over 700 boys and girls in ages 7 through 12 participating in the inaugural season.
It soon became apparent that an autonomous soccer organization was needed to allow children to continue to play as they grew older. In 1976, Barber founded the Kitsap Peninsula Youth Soccer Association with clubs from North Mason to Kingston for this purpose. This association was recognized by the state organization and has continued to grow the game in conjunction with the numerous school, club, and select team competitions in existence today.
Jim became a certified soccer referee and referee instructor to develop officiating services for the sport in the area. He conducted officiating clinics throughout the state and Alaska and continued to referee matches at the senior, collegiate and semi-professional levels until 1982.
Jim and his wife Marlene reside in Seabeck. He retired from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 1997.