Fairfield senior Danae Drish got to fulfill a life-long dream Wednesday afternoon when she signed her letter of intent to play college volleyball for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“As a coach, it’s always exciting to have a player that wants to go on and continue their volleyball career,” said Trojan leader Diana Drish. “It’s fun to help them through that process and be here on that day for them. As a mom, it’s been a long time coming and we are super proud of her. This has been something she’s really wanted to do for a really long time, and the long road to picking out a school is finally over and she is very happy with her decision and so are we.”
“This is a dream come true and it’s becoming real,” said Danae, who added. “It’s kind of a relief and I’m excited to go. Now it’s really real. I love the atmosphere they have and I’m ready to go because I know it will be so much fun.”
There is one thing that concerns Drish about the school she chose from the eight visits that included Division 1 UNC-Wilmington and the usual Iowa Conference schools such as Central, Simpson and Dubuque.
“I just bought my comforter and two coats because they have blizzards every day in the winter and bad snow. We don’t really get snow, but they get six inches all the time so I am mentally preparing myself for winter because I am not a winter person,” admitted Drish.
Drish’s new team
UNK is ranked No. 3 in the nation and won both the regular season and conference tournament titles and is expected to make it to the national tournament.
“Even though it’s out of state school, it’s $20,000 cheaper than the private schools in Iowa, so that played a part plus scholarship money is a possibility,” explained Danae.
Drish said the Lopers are graduating two defensive specialists and she is one of two incoming freshman at the position.
“You have to work for your position and if not playing first year, I should be second year,” said the Trojan senior.
“Kearney is about 5,000 people bigger than Fairfield, but they have some lakes and I love water so I can go boating,” Drish said excitedly.
She said she will be working on her all-around play, serving, working on her hands for setting and weight lifting.
“Being a good defensive specialist in college means being able to fill other positions when needed,” said Drish. “Making yourself more than just one dimensional.”
“It is a big day and most of the time you don’t think this is going to happen,” said dad Ron Drish who added. “It’s a little bit of a different, but most of the players are like daughters anyway.”
Mother/head coach Diana Drish added, “She grew up in the gym because I was coaching when I was pregnant with her and as soon as she was born we were in the gym all the time so she was around it and got to pick it up. She hears us talk about it all the time.”
As for a more quiet home?
“She’s already so busy with all of her friends and other volleyball that we are already accustomed to her being gone all the time,” said Diana. “The boys are going to be bummed, but she’s hardly ever home now.”
“We completed our goals of beating Fort Madison twice,” said Danae. “We stomped them in game five in the regional and that was really good.”
She was also pleased the team was able to share the conference title and win several tournaments they haven’t in a while, such as Burlington and Ottumwa.
“We were really good all four years, but my freshman year and this year to have exceptional teams like that, it would have been cool to go to state but we got dealt bad brackets both times.”
“I’m independent,” said Danae. “But it is setting in that mom can’t just cook for me when I am feeling lazy.”
The twelfth-grader loves to cook and specializes in breakfast and homemade mac and cheese.
“I just had to run to the store the other day to get powdered sugar to make a cake,” said Drish. “Mom was like, ‘OK?’ but that cake was gone in two days.”
“Coach Diers even though she stopped coaching us freshman year and that is sad, but she still comes to our games and pops in after practice and gives me tips. Tom Voorhies does lessons with me in the winter. My parents pay for me to play on a club team with former college coaches. I will miss how everyone is really involved, the businesses all donate and Ashley Bloomquist hasn’t played volleyball since fifth grade, but her grandma travels to Fort Madison to watch us play and it’s cool to see parents whose kids have graduated still care as well. I walk into the bank and someone says ‘good game’ and I have no idea who they are, but thank you!”
Drish loves how “everyone is supportive of each other” and she “wants to be a teacher and it’d be cool to come back and give back to the community.”