On the court, Ian Barnes can do it all for the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team.
Third in scoring (9.6 per game), fourth in shooting percentage (54%) and second in rebounds (6.7), the senior influences the game in every way for the 5-4 Wildcats aside from making (or even attempting) 3-pointers.
Off the court, he’s even more dynamic.
The son of a 20-year Army veteran and an immigrant from Yugoslavia, college is fast-approaching for Barnes, who wishes to follow in his father’s military footsteps.
“I wanted to be able to use the drive and the focus and rigor that’s been established in my house for so long toward something, such as acquiring an education,” Barnes said. “I want to continue down that military path.”
Barnes’ options are wide open, the result of his dedication to academics. This past semester, Barnes took eight classes at Fruita.
Through the Navy and Air Force ROTC programs, Barnes can enroll at any college in Colorado or at the University of Michigan on a full-ride scholarship. However, he’s also seeking enrollment at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
To earn his full ride at one of the service academies, he has to be nominated by a senator or congressman. He applied through the offices of Sen. Cory Gardner, Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Scott Tipton.
“You’ve got to come in, you’ve got to do it. They’ve got to give you a nomination or else you can’t go to one of those schools,” Barnes said. “I just had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire asking questions about myself: extracurriculars, academics, multiple essays, things like that.
“I had multiple letters of recommendation, then I have to sit down and have an in-face meeting with the committee and they’ll select me or not.”
On Dec. 19, Barnes got the nomination he needed. Tipton’s office nominated him for the Merchant Marine Academy and the United States Military Academy.
Wherever he ends up, Barnes will be moving away not only from the place he was raised, but a community he’s become deeply invested in, especially recently.
“Throughout this summer, I volunteered at the Community Food Bank over in Grand Junction and the Fruita library,” Barnes said. “I also volunteered at the Mesa County Library as an English teacher for a student who was just learning English. They came from Mexico. That was a really fun one. It allowed me to grow my language skills and practice those.
“I grew as a person and helped her grow as well.”
In addition to those experiences, he also participated in the Youth Explorer program with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. He learned the inner machinations of the department, discovering the process of things such as DUI stops. He also got to ride along with a law enforcement officer.
Barnes branched out because he wanted to boost his already impressive resume for the post-high school world, but he ultimately discovered truths about himself as a result.
“In all honesty, it was initially toward boosting my resume,” Barnes said. “However, as I got to the goal I wanted to acquire, I just wanted to continue. I liked doing it. I liked helping out at the food bank and helping people who needed food get food. I liked helping someone who needed an education in English get that education that would’ve been hard to acquire somewhere else.
“Initially, it was for selfish purposes, but eventually, I acquired a liking to it.”
Wherever he ends up for his next four-plus years, he hopes to make the impact in that community that he’s made in the Grand Valley.
“It’s definitely going to be difficult. I’m going to have to leave a lot of friends, family, coaches and teachers,” Barnes said. “However, I’ve spoken to my parents multiple times about what’s ahead and what’s to come. I’m focusing on the future and making sure I make an impact in any community I’m part of in the future.”