Claudia and James Barber Legacy Fund for New Haven Youth
James Barber is a track and field legend who coached All-Americans and Olympic athletes. He is also a tireless champion for youth, having mentored thousands of New Haven children, adolescents and college students as a coach, college administrator and community servant over a career spanning 50 years.
Throughout his life, James Barber has inspired the best in people.
After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) as record setting track star and captain of the 1964 football team, he went on to found New Haven Age Group Track and Field. He coached and mentored thousands of children from the city over several decades.
At Southern, he was the head coach of the women’s track and field team, where he coached many champions and All-Americans. His coaching prowess took him to the highest levels of the sport as a coach for both the men’s and women’s USA track teams at national championships and competitions around the world.
As an administrator at Southern, he was a highly-sought after mentor for many decades. He launched and ran the Southern Educational Opportunity Program, led the affirmative action office and was director of student support services. He was awarded the President's Medal of Distinction when he retired from SCSU in 2022.
As a community volunteer, he served as president and a long-time board member of the New Haven Scholarship Fund, which has assisted generations of local high school students to pay for a college education. He was also a board member at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven from 1980-86.
“His draw was, ‘I’m here to take you as far as you want to go,” said Tanya Sutton, who grew up going to Coach Barber’s age-group practices, competed for him at Southern and later worked with him as an assistant coach. “Whether it was in track and field or in going for a degree, he was here for the whole person.”
After his more than 50 years of service, Barber is being honored by his track and field alumni with the establishment a permanent fund for New Haven youth named in honor of Barber and his mother, Claudia.
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