STORRS, Conn. -- Chris Dailey has watched her college coach at Rutgers University, the head coach she's worked with for 33 years at the University of Connecticut, and three former Huskies be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Now, it's her turn.
"Who would have ever thought I'd be looking forward to visiting Knoxville?" Dailey said with a laugh. UConn's associate head coach is among seven who will take their place in the WBHOF during Saturday's enshrinement ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will become UConn's fifth representative. Coach Geno Auriemma was inducted in 2006 and has been joined by players Rebecca Lobo (2010), Jennifer Rizzotti (2013), and Kara Wolters (2017).
Dailey is expecting about 50 family and friends including a contingent from UConn to be in attendance.
"I wish I had time to thank everyone I care about that's been a part of this journey with me," Dailey said. "It will be hard to put into words.
"I'll probably talk about all the people that played in a role in this going back to when I was growing up. I'll go back to my college experience, and I had a great college experience academically, socially, and with basketball. I always wanted to give girls the same opportunities that I had. I was involved in everything, and I got to play some really good teams.
"And I always get emotional when I'm talking about my parents and I'm sure this time will be no different. I know they would be so proud and happy for me."
Dailey, a native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was an All-State player at St. Peter's High in New Brunswick, and went on to play for four years for Theresa Grentz at Rutgers. She was the Scarlet Knights' captain as a junior and senior and helped Rutgers to the final AIAW national championship in 1982.
She started her coaching career as an assistant at Cornell and then returned to her alma mater as an assistant to Grentz for two years. The first thing Auriemma did when he got the UConn job in May 1985 was hire Dailey, and they've been a team since.
While there have been opportunities for her to move on and pursue head coaching positions, she has always decided there was no place like Storrs for her. Dailey and fellow Class of 2018 inductee Mickie DeMoss, who worked under the late Pat Summitt at Tennessee, will be the first assistant coaches to be enshrined.
"I was reading something about how some get out of college and by the time they're 25 they've had three or four different jobs," Dailey said. "For me to have been in one place for 33 years, I've been fortunate. What do they say, the grass is always greener on the other side? It hasn't been that way for me. Maybe if I found the right place or right job ... I love what I do and the people that I'm around.
"If you're an assistant coach, you work to be the best that you can be. It's important to work hard, love what you do, and to do it in the right way. It's OK to be good at what you do and stay where you are."
Since Auriemma and Dailey arrived here, UConn has won a record 11 national championships, 24 conference regular season titles and 23 conference tournament crowns. The Huskies have made a record 19 NCAA Final Four appearances, including the last 11 in a row. They have reached the Sweet 16 the last 25 years and have a run of 30 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. The Huskies' record is 1,027-136, with win No. 1,000 coming last Dec. 19 against Oklahoma.
Dailey coached UConn to the 1989 Big East tournament title -- the program's first -- as Auriemma served a suspension due to a scheduling error, and the 1997 Big East tournament crown after the death of Auriemma's father, Donato.
"I don't know if the term 'assistant coach' does CD justice, given the role that she's played in our program," Auriemma said when the WBHOF class was introduced in February. "I'm thrilled for her. I know that her mom and dad are looking down on her and it and nobody's more proud of her than her dad, that's for sure. I can't wait till the ceremony in June."
Well, June is here and the plan is for Auriemma to escort Dailey to the stage for her speech.
That's the plan.
"Geno's still playing hard to get but I think at the end he'll come through," Dailey said with a laugh.
Rounding out the Class of 2018 are DeMoss, former University of Colorado coach Ceal Barry, former college and high school coach Rose Marie Battaglia, and former NCAA/WNBA standouts and Olympic gold medalists Chamique Holdsclaw, Katie Smith, and Tina Thompson.
The class is the WBHOF's 20th.
When Dailey was asked if there was anything she'd change over the last 33 years, she paused and reflected. It's been a special time and era in Storrs.
"I don't know," Dailey said. "I'd like to change the hairdo that I had when I first got here and maybe some of the outfits that I wore.
"The other things ... I always think that things happen for a reason. Maybe I would have done things a little differently in my personal life with balancing everything that came with my job, maybe some other little things. But in the big picture? No. I wouldn't change anything. I made a decision to come to Connecticut in 1985 and a lot of people thought I was crazy to do that. I went with my gut to make that decision. I've tried to do things the right way. It's turned out great."