NORMAN — Adam Barnett was not always the college pastor at Journey Church in Norman.
Not too long ago, he was a scout teamer with coach Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma women’s basketball program. He was among a handful of young men who helped the Sooner women become the best team they could be.
It was the Stacey Dales’-era Sooners, a squad that eventually reached the Final Four, that Barnett helped prepare.
Barnett has not forgotten where he came from, and in his pastoral and mission work, which has taken him all over the world, he occasionally calls on those relationships that remain with the Sooner women. With the go-ahead of Oklahoma’s compliance department, he will occasionally receive items from the program — an autographed basketball, for example — that might help raise funds toward what all parties involved believe to be very good work.
So, one day he was in the basketball office, picking up some things, when Sooner guard Whitney Hand decided to chat him up on some of his travels. It was 2009.
“I shook his hand and talked to him about Haiti,” she said. “I’m so grateful for that.”
Since then, that handshake and conversation has changed lives — Haitian lives, old, young and infant; the lives of Hand and several of her teammates; and the lives of several Sooner football players.
When Hand and Barnett finished talking, Barnett shared a glance with OU assistant coach Jan Ross, his point person with the program. It was a glance that might as well have been its own conversation or decision, for both of them knew exactly where it was headed.
“Jan and I just sort of looked at each other,” Barnett said. “We just thought, ‘What if?’”
With that, plans were set in motion to put together a mission trip comprised in large part by Sooner athletes. It would be carried out in conjunction with Mission of Hope Haiti, a ministry and relief organization that’s been actively working in Haiti since 1998.