Photo courtesy of the University of Colorado
It is not very often fans can recognize a legend while they are still around. Well, the Colorado faithful have been for some time.
Ceal Barry is a legend.
On July 1, Barry will retire after 43 years in college athletics, which includes the past 37 years in Boulder. In a long and successful career, Barry went from player to coach to administrator, changing the lives of countless student-athletes in her time.
On The Court
Ceal Barry began her track into sports as an athlete with a four-year basketball career at the University of Kentucky. Following her time in Lexington, Barry transitioned to coaching as a grad assistant for the University of Cincinnati. Once she obtained her master’s in education (M.Ed.), Barry was promoted to head coach at just 24 years old.
As the youngest Division I head coach in the country, she led the Bearcats 83-42 record over four seasons. Then, in 1983, Barry found her way to Boulder to take over the women’s basketball team.
Her time at Colorado as the head coach was one of the most impressive campaigns to date. For 22 seasons, Barry led the Buffaloes. Her resume’ includes 13 20-win seasons. Her cumulative record of 427-242 with the Buffaloes had her as the winningest coach in school history upon her retirement in 2005.
These impressive seasons also included an array of accolades. She was the Big 8 Coach of the Year four times and won the Carol Eckman Award in 1995. Her teams also reached the NCAA Tournament on 12 separate occasions. These trips saw a Sweet 16 appearance six times, and three trips to the Elite Eight.
Life After Coaching
After the conclusion of her coaching career, Barry returned to Colorado just one month after retirement. She became an associate athletic director as well as the senior woman’s administrator for the school. Barry is the highest-ranking woman within the department. She has worked under six different athletic directors and made a lasting impact on each one. Current Colorado AD Rick George had nothing but praise regarding Barry.
“Ceal has represented all of us in such a dignified way throughout her career,” George said. “She has accomplished more than most as both a coach and then as an administrator and has had a career that will leave its mark on CU for years to come.”
As an administrator for over a decade, Barry seen so many things happen in Boulder. From coaching changes to the Rise in 2016, her unquestioned leadership has provided constant hope within Boulder.
Ceal Barry’s achievements will be etched in Colorado history forever. The Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame recognized her with induction in 1994. Then, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and CU Athletic Hall of Fame followed suit in 2006 and 2010, respectively. Finally, Barry received a nod from the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame with her induction in 2018.
Her legacy is unmatched in Boulder. Although her time there has come to a close, Barry will be forever remembered within the halls of the Champions Center.