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Barnett, Fisher named to CIF-SS Hall of Fame

Legendary Newport Harbor water polo coach and Costa Mesa cross country head man among 10 who will be honored in the fall.

July 03, 2012|By Steve Virgen
(Kevin Chang | Daily…)

There are amazing feats that stand out on the resumès of Bill Barnett and Joe Fisher that have caused them to reach legendary status in their profession. Add another noteworthy accomplishment for both.

Barnett, the highly regarded girls' water polo coach at Newport Harbor High, and Fisher, the former great cross country coach at Cosa Mesa, have been recognized as CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame awardees, the CIF Southern Section announced last week.

They are among 10 Hall of Famers and nine others who will be honored for Distinguished Service at an award luncheon on Oct. 25.

Debbie Fleming, a former Los Alamitos athletic director and swim and tennis coach who is a Newport Beach resident, is also a Hall of Famer, as is the late Jim Harris, a great boys' basketball coach at Ocean View.

Barnett, who is entering his 46th year of coaching, led the Newport Harbor boys' water polo teams to 10 CIF titles and seven other appearances in the final of the section's large-school division from 1967 to 1987. In February, he coached the Newport Harbor girls' water polo team to its fifth CIF Southern Section Division I title.

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"It's a great honor," Barnett said of being named to the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame. "It's the highest the CIF Southern Section can give. It's very gratifying to receive it."

Barnett, 69, is also a former U.S. Olympic men's team coach. He guided the Americans to a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a fourth-place finish at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

He has been recovering from a third back surgery he had in April and continues to coach.

"I am feeling better," Barnett said. "I'm out of a walker and basically walking once in a while with a cane. Things are looking up."

Barnett, who lives in Laguna Beach, has been retired after teaching at Newport Harbor, where he arrived in 1966, but he remains busy. He continues to coach for the Newport Water Polo Foundation girls' team, which has the majority of girls who play for Newport Harbor. The team recently competed in the Villa Park tournament and finished second to Foothill. Four more tournaments are on the schedule, including the Junior Olympics. There are also Sunset League games every Monday and Wednesday, Barnett said.

"It was a slam dunk to get Barnett in there," Newport Harbor Athletic Director Mike Zimmerman said. "It's long overdue for someone who has given so much for the sport of water polo. It's a no-brainer."

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