NEW YORK -- Chris Dailey has always shied away from the spotlight.
Even as the UConn Huskies were winning championship after championship, the longtime assistant coach was more apt to be in the background helping Geno Auriemma. Dailey had no choice this fall but to be front and center when she was honored with the Joe Lapchick Character Award. She was the first assistant to be given the award since it was initially presented 12 years ago.
"It's overwhelming really. I'm rarely speechless. When I first got the call, I was like OK, then I read more about it and more about the history and all the people who have been honored before me, it's amazing to be in that category," Dailey said in a phone interview. "It's one of those awards your parents would be most proud of because it's more about you as a person than what you do at the job. I feel really proud about that. They taught me all those things that I was honored for."
Dailey has been a huge part of the UConn women team's success over the past 34 years. She arrived with Auriemma in 1985 and has helped guide the team to a record 11 national championships. She was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame last year, one of the first assistant coaches to be enshrined.
"What this award is all about has nothing to do with recruiting, does not say anything about X's and O's," Auriemma said. "The thing that everybody talks about when they meet Chris is the integrity she brings to everything that she does, the loyalty that she has for her friends, her family, her co-workers, her athletes that she is responsible for and the passion that she brings to her life. If Chris Dailey was not my assistant, none of what has happened at Connecticut would be even remotely possible."
While this year might be one of the more challenging ones for the fourth-ranked Huskies in recent memory, with so many new faces and a lack of on the court experience, Dailey knows that her job won't change. The Huskies (1-0) play at Vanderbilt on Wednesday night
"I try to show them about working hard and the right way to handle yourself when adversity comes," she said. "It's about how you handle yourself when things don't go your way. I would say I feel like our kids have their parents and they have their foundation and I feel like what we do at UConn is just help reinforce what their parents already taught them. Show them that what they do in college will help them be more prepared for what they do when they graduate."
Many of the former Huskies have gone on to play in the pros and they credit Dailey for teaching them a lot about life.
"CD's a class act," WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi said. "She teaches you so much that you don't appreciate until after you graduate. How much she taught you, how much time she gave you."