Growing up in Newington, Connecticut, Barrie attended Newington High School, where she participated in field hockey, basketball and track, and competed in the A.A.U. swimming program.
Entering Lake Forest College in 1961, Barrie earned three letters in basketball and four in field hockey and also participated on the cheerleading squad for three years. As a senior she was elected captain of all three teams. President of the Association of Women Students for two years, Barrie was also selected for Who's Who in 1965 as an American Civilization major.
Following graduation she remained at the College as an assistant coach for two years. She later pursued a degree in Instructional Media at Northeastern Illinois University and married classmate Doug Dunbar '67. While staying active herself by officiating field hockey, she also raised two daughters who accumulated twenty-two high school varsity letters between them and earned college athletic scholarships.