KINGSLEY — Sugar plums.
Many Kingsley opponents have been thinking that — or, most likely, some derivative of it — as Brittany Bowman goes about her business.
As for Bowman, curse words remain one thing Stags foes won’t hear, at least from the three-sport standout.
Bowman has been named the Record-Eagle Female Athlete of the Year. Not because she doesn’t swear, but because she leads to so many opponents doing so.
“Sugar plums” is the Kingsley star’s go-to utterance when she’s frustrated, which doesn’t happened all that often.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use expletives like that,” Stags volleyball coach Dave Hall said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard her swear.”
This story can be consumed by a long list of Bowman’s accomplishments, but the short list includes a three-time first-team all-Northwest Conference in basketball, three-time all-NWC in volleyball and 10-time state qualifier in track and field. She’s only a junior.
That’s the gist. You get it. She’s good. Real good.
“She’s an All-American example of a multi-sport athlete,” Kingsley girls basketball coach Matt Schelich said. “She literally turns the light on in the gym every day.”
He’s not kidding or exaggerating.
When he arrives at school a half hour early, Bowman is almost always waiting in the gym, eager for a rebounder to pass basketball back to her while she practices with hundreds of jump shots.
Bowman’s habit of arriving to school early every day to get in more shooting practice began in seventh grade, when she entered in the Elks Hoop Shoot.
To prepare, she went to the Kingsley High School gym daily and put up hundreds of jumpers. Then it became the norm.
Bowman used to hide a basketball in a high school friend’s locker so that when she’s arrived in the gym and nobody was there to unlock the locker room, she could still get some shots in.
Other times, she’ll wait for school secretary Patti Gleason to arrive with a key.
Bowman is nine digs off the Kingsley career digs record of 1,707, something she’ll likely accomplish in the Stags first event of the season at the Traverse City West Invitational on Aug. 27.
The three-time team MVP in basketball averaged 12 points, 2.5 assists and two steals a game last season in the Stags’ balanced offense.
She’s a seven-time Northwest Conference champion in track (100-meter hurdles three times, 300 hurdles twice and long jump twice).
“She’s the dream athlete everybody wants,” Kingsley girls track coach Amanda Hessem said. “She’s never going to skip any workout you give and she holds her teammates accountable in a good way. She holds herself accountable more than anyone else could.”
Hall saw Bowman as a seventh-grader on his middle school basketball team, noting that she was already a better passer than any varsity player he’d ever seen.
A year later, Forest Area volleyball coach Ron Stremlow suggested Hall use Bowman at outside hitter as a freshman.
“I said, ‘She’s 5-2 — absolutely no chance,” Hall said. “Then she came to a couple open gyms and I started thinking, ‘She could be an outside hitter for us.’”
Bowman was already a jump server in middle school, a skill many volleyball players don’t pick up until high school, if at all. She served at 97.9 percent last season.
Now, she’s 5-3 3/4, but calls it 5-4. Close enough, plus she plays way bigger than she is anyway.
How many other 5-4 starting outside hitters — a position typically reserved for taller players — have you seen at the high school level, especially at a program with a history of success like Kingsley’s? Not many.
Bowman says she didn’t intentionally aim for sports and positions usually reserved for taller athletes — basketball, outside hitter and hurdles — and it just worked out that way.
She had to choose between softball and track as a freshman.
“I liked winning a lot and I was fast,” she said.
She used to be as big as most kids through elementary school. Then she just stopped growing in middle school. Clothes and shoes from seventh grade still fit her.
Bowman hasn’t gotten a lot taller in high school. Then again, she’s done pretty well for herself without it.
She’s gained in other areas, instead of relying completely on her natural speed. Control is one of those spots.
“As a freshman, she was really hard on herself,” Hall said. “She’s gotten better at not being so mad at herself.”
“She maximizes everything she has,” Hessem said.
Schelich describes Bowman as an “old soul,” in the best way possible. The three-year basketball varsity starter has already been elected co-captain for next winter’s season.
Back to that list of accomplishments. It’s already lengthy as a junior.
In basketball, she’s been a three-time all-Northwest Conference pick, three-time Record-Eagle All-Region selection, three-time team MVP and academic all-state.
For volleyball, she’s again a three-time first-team all-Northwest pick, three-time All-Region selection and earned honorable mention all-state status.
In track, she’s a three-time Northwest Conference champion in the 100 hurdles, twice in 300 hurdles, been on the Record-Eagle All-Region Team three times, three-time academic all-state and has qualified for the state finals a total of 10 times, including all three seasons in both hurdles events. She’s led the Stags in points scored all three years.
Those are just the highlights.
Bowman and senior Jacie King formed a powerful 1-2 punch in the same three sports. The two played in the same basketball back court, both were outside hitters in volleyball and ran three track events together — the 100 and 300 hurdles and 1,600 relay. The main difference athletically is King chose shot put and Bowman long jump as their fourth events.
“It’s definitely going to be weird next year without her here,” said Bowman, who verbally committed to Lake Superior State University to play basketball.
At Lake Superior, she’ll be playing alongside former Mancelona player Eileene Naniseni, who will be a senior by the time Bowman arrives in Sault Ste. Marie. The two previously played AAU ball together.