Berry embraces opportunity at Red Level

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Joe Berry has always bled black and gold and for the last 24 years, he has displayed dedication and pride at Red Level School as a sports manager.

“Joe Berry’s efforts embody the spirit of what it means to really be the change you wish to see in the world. He is a caring man whose commitment to Red Level School is evident in everything he does. I’m not sure Joe realizes just how much he means to our students, families, staff, and faculty. He is an outstanding representative of RLS,” Principal Randy McGlaun said.

Berry is commonly known as “Joe Bear” and a 1997 alumnus of Red Level High School. He said his first nod as manager came when he made the baseball team.

“Being a Red Level Tiger means everything to me. There is so much excitement from every game and every score. I first became a manager for the Tigers when one of my coaches told me on the phone that he needed one. That’s how I got my foot in the door from Mr. Randy Stough.”

Being a manager for Red Level’s sports teams gives him a lot of excitement. He helps with the youth football, junior varsity and varsity baseball, basketball, and varsity football teams. “I get to meet new kids and coaches, have fun, and enjoy the progress we make on kids’ lives,” he said.

Berry’s added that his duties and responsibilities vary for each sport.

“At football, it is my job to make sure the kids stay behind the line and the football stays dry when rain comes. When I go to practice, I have to get water for the coaches and players. I do my best to make sure everything is 10-4’d for game day. At basketball, I make sure to have everything packed to go to the game. I always look to see if we have backup uniforms just in case blood gets on the ones we are wearing. At baseball, I make sure our coaches have baseballs and bats and keep the dugout cleaned. Before the game starts, I check with the head coach to see if he needs any food or drink and also have water or Gatorade ready for the umpires.”

He is grateful for this longtime journey of working with the athletes at RLS. “I am blessed to have the experience of working with some great coaches and kids plus my ball boys and the great Wyatt Simmons, who is my wing man. He helps take care of the kids at football if it gets too busy. He gets tape for the coaching staff, pickle juice for the players, or runs after water.”

Support from the school’s coaches and community means everything to him.

“I have a great family here at Red Level, and all the athletes support me. The love I have been shown has been great, and I’m very proud to be a part of this school and athletic program,” Berry said.

“I basically grew up with Joe. His first year as a manager was 1997. I was a junior, and Joe was the manager for the baseball team. He was always just happy to be around the game and didn’t mind too much when we gave him a hard time. He would usually give it right back to us, all in good fun. He worked extremely hard and has continued to do that throughout the years. When I came back here to coach baseball, Joe was one of the first people to greet me and welcome me back home. He is a character. If you know Joe, you just have to love him. He is a true testament to being committed and invested in a school. I honestly don’t know how he does it, but I know why he does. He loves the Red Level community and Red Level School with every ounce of his being, and we all love Joe. It just wouldn’t be the same without him,” Head Baseball Coach Todd Smith said.

Two of his favorite athletes he has met during his 24-year journey are Connor Cook and B.J. Anderson. “There may be more, but I will tell you that every athlete I have met is dear and passionate to my heart. In saying that, every kid I have met from school to school are still special to me. Each kid I have come in contact with is very special, and bonding with the kids is what sports are all about.”

In addition to his manager duties at Red Level School, he holds a full-time position at Shaw Industries in the janitorial department.

“I would like to say thank you to God for allowing me to meet so many people in my life that made me feel very blessed. I pray God will keep me healthy and allow me to keep doing this for a long time. I thank my future, present, and past players coaches and managers. I wouldn’t have made it on this journey without all of you. God bless you all,” Berry said.