Barber has spent six seasons as an assistant for the Falcons
Sam Barber enters his fourth season at the helm of the Air Force wrestling program and his third season in the Big 12 wrestling conference. Barber has coached 15 national qualifiers at USAFA while also making his mark as a recruiter, rounding up some of the nation’s top recruits to build the program’s second consecutive top-20 recruiting class according to W.I.N Magazine’s early-season recruiting rankings in 2016-17. The feat marks the first time in program history the Falcons have had back-to-back top-20 recruiting rankings. In 2015 Barber led the Falcons to an All-Academy Championship title for the first time in 12 years and the fifth time in program history.
Barber spent five years as a full-time assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Falcons after serving as a volunteer assistant during the 2008-09 season. With more than 21 years of coaching experience, Barber’s resume also includes a pair of head coaching stints, as well as 12 years coaching at the international level. He served as the head coach at his alma mater, Upper Iowa, and at perennial DIII powerhouse Augsburg College (Minn.).
During his tenure at Augsburg, the Auggies never finished below third place at the NCAA Division III championships, winning national titles in 2002, 2005 and 2007. In 2006, Barber was named the Division III Co-National Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Additionally, he coached 16 national champions and 60 All-Americans prior to coaching at Air Force, including a spectacular 2005 season in which 10 Augsburg wrestlers earned All-America honors on their path to the national championship.
Barber’s resume extends to the international stage where he was the head coach of the 2015 Junior Pan American Greco team, which finished second in competition. In 2012 he coached the FILA Cadet Pan American Freestyle team and the 2013 FILA Junior Pan American Freestyle team, which both captured gold medals; testament to his coaching ability across the wrestling arts. Barber is also responsible for coaching Jesus Wilson, who placed second in the 1999 World Team Trials.
Barber arrived at the Academy after working with USA Wrestling as the manager of the National Coaches Education Program. Prior to that, he spent seven years with the wrestling program at Augsburg College, spending four seasons as the head assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach in 2005 and taking over the reins as head coach in 2007.
A 1995 graduate of Upper Iowa University, Barber served as the head assistant coach at his alma mater from 1995-99 before being named the head coach in 1999. Barber also spent the 2000-01 season as a graduate assistant coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, where he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership and experiential education in 2004. While there, Barber helped lead the Mavericks to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships in 2001.
Barber and his wife, Danielle, currently reside in Colorado Springs, with their daughter, Aven.