By Brendon Brady
Photos by Shane Marshall
What’s it like to be the daughter of collegiate sports legends and the younger sister of two Division 1 football players? One would think it’s a lot to live up to, but Brighton High’s Dani Barton just shrugs it off and smiles.
Her family legacy may be known throughout the West–thanks to her mother, Mikki, and eldest brother, Jackson–but Barton is trying to make her own mark. The two-sport athlete holds offers (for both volleyball and basketball in some cases) from the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and the University of Southern California. Not bad for a sophomore.
Barton comes from a long line of athletes and competitors. Her father, Paul, played football and baseball at Utah. The 6-foot-6 quarterback excelled most as a pitcher, and he spent time in the minor leagues, in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Her mother was also a two-sport athlete growing up. She was heavily influenced by her father, who was her coach all through high school in Idaho. She also attended Utah where she started out playing just basketball. She was encouraged to play volleyball and the rest is history.
Mikki Kane-Barton is currently a member of the University of Utah athletics hall of fame. At six feet tall, Mikki was a player of the year in the Western Athletic Conference in basketball and also an all-conference volleyball player.
In just her sophomore year at Brighton, Dani is certainly living up to her family’s high benchmarks. One of the things that makes her an amazing athlete is her spirit. When she played varsity on both the girls basketball and volleyball teams as a freshman, she said, “No one treated me like I was a freshman. I played my game and everyone respected me.”
The 16-year-old is driven by success and the mostly unspoken rivalry that exists among all four of the Barton kids.
“I hate losing more than I like winning,” Dani said. “We don’t really talk about it, but we all know it’s there. My parents always joke that I’ll have a greater career than my brothers.”
It appears that will be no easy task as two older brothers are off to a pretty strong start. Eldest brother Jackson, a four-star recruit in 2014 plays football at The University of Utah, where older brother Cody, a senior at Brighton, is also committed to play after earning all-state honors after an impressive 2014 season.
Over the past year, Dani has matured and improved her game. The 5-11 guard leads the Lady Bengals basketball team in scoring, averaging 18 points a game and more than tripling her freshman average. This is all the more impressive considering that Barton was coming off of a wrist injury that ended her volleyball season early.
In Brighton’s Feb. 5 against rival Alta, Barton was feeling it early and often and finished with 21 points in the 66-42 win. She looks poised and ready, along with the senior leaders of the team, to make a run at the state championship.
However, the biggest goal for Barton is the Olympics, and not necessarily on any kind of court.
“After playing in a sand volleyball tournament in California when I was 13, I was hooked,” Dani said. “My doubles partner and I have had it in the back of our minds ever since.”
The road to becoming an Olympic athlete is no easy one, but with that pedigree combined with an athletic skill set, attitude and drive that Dani has, the Olympics might not be that crazy of a goal.