Photo courtesy of Delaney Daly
PITTSBURGH – When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, you take it. That’s exactly what propelled Carlow University basketball player Delaney Daly to attend a 10-day program overseas.
Daly traveled to Spain June 3-13 through Beyond Sports, an international organization that produces and plans sports tours for high school and collegiate athletes.
Third year head coach Tim Moore received an email invitation from Beyond Sports for forward Emma Stille and Daly to attend the tour, which he forwarded along to the athletes.
“I thought it was an honor they were selected to participate,” Moore said. “I wanted to send it to them in case they could go; it’s a great honor, and they worked hard for it. I also wanted them to see that someone else out there is recognizing what they’re doing [on the court].”
Players are chosen based off statistical leaders in conference action. Daly was second on the team behind Stille, averaging 11.2 points per game and pulling down 113 rebounds during the 2018-19 season for the Celtics. She shot 75 percent from the free throw line.
“For Delaney, it all started with her in the off-season. She just loves the game,” Moore said. “She works hard throughout the off-season when other people might not be putting in the time.”
Moore said Daly’s efforts paid off this past season. “Last season she was more of a role player, but she embraced the opportunity to get better,” he said. “She did an excellent job on the boards and in different statistical categories. It was really the off-season that did that for her.”
During her time in Spain, Daly played against local teams and traveled through Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.
To add to the excitement, this was Daly’s first trip overseas.
“I was a little nervous, but it was fun,” Daly exclaimed. “I didn’t travel with anyone I knew.”
Student-athletes from around the United States comprised Daly’s peer group for the week.
Beyond Sports covered hotel costs, transportation and two meals for the athletes, but the flight and other ancillary items were left up the individuals’ families.
“Whenever I first got the email, I thought, ‘There’s no way – I’ve never been out of the country, I can’t afford this,’” she said. “My mom and pap told me, ‘You have to do it; we’ll make it work.’”
Daly’s group played four games during the trip, and she said competition was tough.
“The rules are similar to the NBA; they really speed up the game,” she said. This included a 24 second shot clock (compared to 30) and eight seconds to cross the half court line instead of 10. “The referees didn’t really call travelling or carrying. It’s definitely more physical, and you get to play through a lot more.”
The competition was physically tough as well. Daly mentioned the athletes seemed to be stronger and faster, having been accustomed to that particular type of play.
“The coaches warned us that it would be different, but the first game we were all kind of caught off-guard,” she added.
The competition only fueled Daly’s already tenacious nature and increased her confidence on the court. “Being able to compete against those athletes and do well really helped my confidence,” she said. “Bringing that confidence back to Carlow will be a big advantage [this upcoming season].”
In addition to the games, the trip afforded the athletes plenty of time to explore and take in the sights. Daly mentioned her favorite area was Valencia, where the athletes rode bikes and experienced the city up close.
“We spent the most time there, so I got to see more. It was such a beautiful city,” she said. “I got to see all the buildings and strips of stores. There were people everywhere walking and shopping. It was amazing getting to experience a different culture in that way.”
During one day of the trip, the athletes visited a local gym that hosts children’s camps and clinics. According to Daly, the athletes all went in thinking they were going to teach shooting drills and basketball skills to the children – but they ended up having even more fun “testing” mini events for upcoming camps.
“We helped the organizers test different games,” Daly said. “We played blindfolded soccer and just spent most of the time hanging out and playing games with the kids. It was so much fun!”
It’s safe to say the trip changed Daly’s outlook on the game and perspective on life. She encourages anyone given the opportunity to take advantage of it – no matter what.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; you might never get a chance like this again,” she said. “I met the most amazing people ever – friends I will have for life.”