Former NCAA Division I standout player and assistant coach Ben Barkema is in his first season as West Hills College Coalinga defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Under Barkema's guidance, the WHCC defense ranked No. 3 among all 68 California Community College Athletic Association teams in total points allowed (190). The Falcons defense allowed just 298.3 total yards per game, ranking No. 3 in the Golden Coast League.
The team ranked first in league fumble recoveries (18), second in sacks (34) and second in defensive touchdowns (3).
Six of the teams 11 All-GCL selections in 2017 were on the defensive side including: sophomore DL Marquis Caldwell (Corona, CA), sophomore DE Eric Powell (Glen Burnie, MD), sophomore LB Josh Parks (Baltimore, MD), sophomore DB Andreaz Spencer, freshman safety Doniaj Smelker (Colorado Springs, CO), and sophomore DE Michael Lightsey (St. Augustine, FL),
Powell led the league with 19 tackles for loss - and led the Falcons with 10.5 sacks (third in the GCL). Parks led the team in tackles with 82 (third in the GCL) to go along with 12 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery.
Spencer (Cottandle, AL) made the All-GCL Team as a return specialist. Spencer led the GCL in punt return average (28.0) - including a 55-yard TD - and ranked fifth in league kick return average (24.6) - including an 87-yard score.
Smelker led WHCC defensive backs with 42 tackles (also 3 forced fumbles, 3 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 INT returned for a TD).
After playing tight end and earning Big 12 honors at Iowa State, Barkema started coaching at the four-year university level.
Barkema coached future NFL linebackers A.J. Klein (Saints/Panthers), Jeremiah George (Colts/Cowboys), and Jake Knott (Eagles/Dolphins).
More recently, he was the offensive line coach at the University of Northern Iowa during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Barkema helped UNI garner the No. 5 ranked recruiting class among 2016 FCS schools. In 2015, UNI posted six wins against Top 25 opponents and finished No. 6 in the final FCS Coaches Poll.
Barkema was the tight ends coach at Missouri State University for two seasons (2013-14) prior to UNI. He also worked with the MSU special teams and was involved with digital recruiting efforts.
The MSU offense broke the school record for rushing yards in a season during his first year on the staff, coaching the offensive line that ended 2015 ranked No. 15 in the FCS in rushing offense. He saw senior Jacob Rathmacher earn first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors as well as true freshman Cal Twait land on the All-Newcomer team.
In his first season with Missouri State, Barkema coached two standout tight ends in veteran Matt Swan and newcomer Gannon Sinclair. Swan went on to earn MVFC Scholar-Athlete second team after starting all 12 games while Sinclair earned eight starts and finished with three touchdowns.
During his second year, he also saw Sinclair and punter Chris Sullens earn MVFC honorable mention status. Under his direction, Sinclair finished with 20 total starts, 10 touchdowns, 29 receptions and 361 yards through the air.
Prior to his stint in Springfield, Barkema was the defensive line coach for Upper Iowa during the 2012 season. He assisted with special teams and video coordination, while recruiting the state of Iowa and Wisconsin. His punt return unit ranked third nationally in NCAA Division II.
Barkema also spent three years as a graduate assistant coach for his alma mater Iowa State. While with the Cyclones, he was an integral part in recruiting in the state of Missouri and Kansas, while organizing the offensive scout team.
He also worked with the team's linebackers and special teams. During his time with the Cyclones, he coached four All-Big 12 players, including 2011 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year A.J. Klein.
Barkema had a standout career as a Cyclone, starting 36 games at tight end from 2003-2007. He caught 52 passes for 566 yards and scored four touchdowns during his career. He matched a career-high with 18 receptions during his senior season in 2007 and completed his college career averaging more than 10 yards per receptions.
His tenure in Ames also saw him play in the 2004 Independence Bowl and 2005 Houston Bowl.
Barkema earned Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll status in the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007 and was also a Big 12 All-Academic selection in 2007.
After finishing his career with the Cyclones, Barkema was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent following the 2008 NFL Draft. He later returned to Iowa State for the 2009 season as the program's graduate assistant.
A native of Muscatine, Iowa, Barkema was a three-sport perp star, earning all-state honors in football and basketball, leading his basketball team to the state tournament. He was named 2003 Male Athlete of the Year by the Quad City Times.
Barkema earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from Iowa State University in 2007 and 2011. He completed his postgraduate work in education leadership and policy studies.
At WHCC, Barkema is an adjunct instructor, teaching the primary football classes. He has helped the physical education/kinesiology division with Student Learning Outcomes and Student Services Outcomes; and he is a member of the WHCC Athletic Department Golf Tournament committee.
• 2017-Current: West Hills College Coalinga, Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers Coach
• 2015-2017: University of Northern Iowa, Offensive Line
• 2013-2014: Missouri State, Tight Ends
• 2012: Upper Iowa, Defensive Line
• 2009-2011: Iowa State, Offensive Graduate Assistant
• Iowa State, B.A. Business, 2007
• Iowa State, M.A. Leadership & Policy Studies, 2011
• Iowa State, 2003-2007 (Tight End)
• Caught 52 passes for 566 yards and four touchdowns
• Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, 2006-2007
• Big 12 All-Academic, 2007
• NFL Cleveland Browns, 2008