Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Russell Hons
Megan Dailey is on her way back to normalcy on the hardwood.
Overcoming nagging health issues is frustrating for anyone, athletes especially. Whatever the injury may be, there is a certain mental, physical and emotional recovery that comes along with it. For Megan Dailey, who struggled with health problems all of last season, her first in Grand Forks, it was especially challenging. Not seeing the floor, not being able to contribute and a host of other feelings could have taken Dailey away from the team entirely.
However, she has been able to find her own niche on the roster, as a motivational source and an excellent outlet for other players, senior or otherwise. Considering she came to Grand Forks with her sister Melissa, it made her transition to leadership that much easier, despite the health issues.
Like Melissa, Dailey played junior college basketball at College of the Siskiyous in California. She was a two-time First Team All-Golden Valley Conference performer in her two seasons with the school. In 2016-17, she scored 13 points per game and made 40 percent of her three-point attempts. As was the case with her sibling, she caught the interest of the Fighting Hawks coaching staff. In turn, the Dailey sisters came as a package deal before last season.
Unfortunately, Dailey struggled to stay healthy through most of the season in 2017-18. She appeared in just eight games last year and played a total of 26 minutes. Despite the frustration that comes with not being able to return from injury, Dailey has remained confident and upbeat in the locker room.
Megan Dailey At A Glance
- Two-time First Team All-Golden Valley Conference in junior college.
- Shot 40 percent from three-point range her sophomore year at College of the Siskiyous.
- Played in eight games in 2017-18.
“For me, it’s when someone is getting yelled at in practice or whatever, it’s my job to let them know that they are doing okay and they’re not doing as bad as they think they are,” Dailey said in regards to her leadership style on this North Dakota team. “Just to pick them up when they feel down is my role.”
That role is one every team needs. A lion’s share of rosters do not have that source though, making Megan Dailey as valuable as any of the other five seniors on campus. Her confidence in taking on that role is only aided by the fact that she has five girls her own age surrounding her, one of them being her sister. Not to say that their transition to Grand Forks was an easy one. Yet, the Dailey sisters are open to learning from their teammates.
“It’s hard because me and my sister had to come in and learn everything as older people. Even the ones that have been here, they can still teach us, that’s really important,” she said. “For us to know the ropes now and help the other people I think that really helps our team bond but play better together.”
The bond between the six seniors is a common talking point between them all. They all seem to have forged a very deep bond with one another as a group and as individuals. It shows on the court too. Yet, Dailey has been forging a bond with another Fighting Hawk her entire life, her sister Melissa. The two have played basketball together their entire lives and when it was time to leave College of the Siskiyous, their future as a basketball tandem was called into question.
“It’s awesome for us to have the same opportunity to play together still because when high school was over, we didn’t know if we would play together again,” Dailey said about playing alongside her sister. “I think it’s a good experience though.”
Obviously, it worked out that both Dailey sisters are now in Grand Forks, playing with one another yet again. For both of them, it provides a level of comfortability, especially as they traveled across time zones to play for North Dakota.
In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter how many minutes Megan Dailey plays. Sure, she wants to be healthy, her team wants her to be healthy and her coaches want her on the floor too. Most of that is out of their control, but it is clear that Dailey has made an impact at UND despite playing only 26 total minutes in her Fighting Hawks career before this season.
Megan Dailey has become a team leader, a figure younger players look to if they have an issue on or off the floor. That is what makes this senior class so special, each of them has a role and they thrive in it. There are not too many places in the country where that is the case. In that sense, Dailey remains a vital asset to North Dakota women’s basketball.