Barry Richardson
Barry Richardson
Barry Richardson says he is ready to take on his new responsibilities as athletic director at Philadelphia High School.

 But right now, athletics in Mississippi’s public schools are on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Philadelphia, like other public schools in Mississippi, is waiting to learn when sports activities can resume and what the health restrictions will be, once they are back.

Tentatively, public school athletics will start back the first of June. Richardson said there is a meeting of the Mississippi High School Activities Association on May 20 where the final decision will be made.

“We really can’t make any final decisions until after that May 20 meeting,” Richardson said. “We’ll know whether we can start athletics back up, and if so, what will it look like.”

Richardson, whose father, Bobby Richardson, led the Tornado to a basketball championship, feels right at home at Philadelphia High School. 

He has lived in Philadelphia for the past 15 years while teaching in other school districts, He taught the upper math courses at Philadelphia during this past school year which was cut short in March because of the virus.

This will be his 16th year in education. He attended the Philadelphia schools through the ninth grade. He went to Forest High School his 10th grade year and then finished his final two years at Neshoba Central.

After high school, he attended Mississippi College and then East Central Community College. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in business at Mississippi State University where he finished in 2001. He worked in the private sector a few years before going into education.

He has taught at Neshoba Central and in the Scott County School District twice. Along the way, he received his master’s degree from Mississippi State and his Specialist in Education degree from Arkansas State University.

 While he wasn’t involved in Philadelphia athletics last year, he said he attended most of the games and is familiar with the coaches, the students and the teams.

“I was always around,” Richardson said.

Coach Robert Byrd served as athletic director last year. He will be coaching boys basketball this year and has been named assistant principal at Philadelphia Elementary School. That left the athletic director’s position open and Richardson applied for it. He found out last week that he will be the athletic director. He will also be teaching math classes.

“Everyone at Philadelphia High has to wear different hats and I am ready for the challenge,” Richardson said.

Should athletics get the green light to resume summer workouts, Richardson will be busy off the bat.

First, he will be tasked with making sure Philadelphia is compliant with the COVID-19 safety measures when practices and workouts start. Most likely, only so many players and coaches will be able to be in the weight room at the same time and a system will have to be established for masks, hand washing and the cleaning of equipment.

“We want our parents to know that their children will be safe,” Richardson said.

Philadelphia High School will be starting a volleyball program this fall. If the sports come back, Richardson will have to find a coach, purchase equipment, and help get a team started.

“We know what we want as far as equipment goes,” Richardson said. “But we are waiting to see if there is going to be a season before we spend the money.”

There will be other pieces of the puzzle that will warrant his attention.

“A large portion of the how athletics will come back is not in the schools hands,” Richardson said. “Once we know, we’ll look at the logistics and see what we can do.

“If we get to play, our goal is to get the teams on the field and continue to improve,” Richardson said. “Our football team went deep into the playoffs last year. Our boys basketball team made it to the semifinals of the state tournament. Our girls will be young and we maybe be rebuilding some. I feel fortunate in what we have done recently and want to see us do better.”