In a way, Brittany Barney simply was following a family tradition.
Barney was known as Brittany Fowler when she was tearing up the basketball court at Longmont High. She did the same as a standout guard at Colorado Mesa, and earlier this month Barney was awarded the rarest of athletic accolades when she was inducted into Mesa’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Barney is the granddaughter of Les Fowler, who was Colorado’s golf coach for 29 years (1948-76) and mentored a pair of NCAA titlists in Merle Backlund (1953) and Hale Irwin (1967). Les Fowler was inducted into the Colorado athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
“I would definitely say, first and foremost, I have the most supportive family,” Barney said. “At Longmont High, my parents came to every game there. And I credit that to a ton of my success. Even in college, my parents or somebody from my family or extended family was able to be at every game. Every single game there’re was one of my parents or family members there. They supported me and sacrificed, whether it was when I was playing club basketball traveling for practices and the cost of that.
“I credit (this award) to family support.”
As a junior at Longmont, Barney led the Trojans to the 2003 Class 4A championship game, where they suffered a five-point defeat against Ranum. Barney didn’t enjoy the same team success at Mesa but nonetheless made a lasting mark in the program’s record book. She graduated as the Mavericks’ all-time leader in career 3-point percentage (.392) and still ranks second in that category. Barney also ranks second all-time at Mesa in points (1,594) and steals (201), and ranks fourth in career free throw percentage (.816). Barney still owns the second and third-best single-season free throw marks in program history, shooting .843 in 2004-05 and .845 in 2006-07.
“At the time I was at Mesa, I didn’t realize where I stood on those leader boards,” Barney said. “Our team didn’t have a ton of success. Looking back now at those numbers, it was such a culmination of hard work and it just felt like an amazing thing to accomplish, just because we weren’t on the greatest teams. We had great people on those teams, and I give credit to that, too. We all worked just as hard and pushed each other just as hard.”
Barney was able to enjoy an in-person, limited capacity induction ceremony in Grand Junction earlier this month before returning to Berthoud, her home since 2014. The mother of three young children, Barney didn’t rule out eventually dipping her toes into coaching after learning she and her husband, also a former collegiate basketball player, fared poorly as sideline observers during their oldest child’s first season of youth basketball.
“We wanted her to get introduced and we know we both very competitive so we decided not to coach,” Barney said. “We found out we probably were even more frustrated not coaching than had we just coached. We talked and we will hopefully coach them sometime in the future.”