EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - This is where Daley Handy feels most at home.
“I just grew up with it.” Daley Handy said.
On the basketball court.
“I just fell in love with playing the game.” Handy said.
It’s built her into who she is today.
“I've always been a tall, strong girl." Handy said. "So, growing up where I didn't have basketball, that would have been hard for me not to feel insecure about my strength or my height. But with basketball it was strengths. So it allowed me to feel strong, confident in the body I was getting.”
Daley Handy lays on a hospital bed, recovering from ACL surgery. The junior Emporia State women's basketball player has overcome two ACL tears.
She’s needed every ounce of that strength to stay on the floor.
“I've learned that basketball is, isn't everything. It's only a way an avenue to show my God given talents.” Handy said.
The Wichita Native excelled at Maize High school. From there, Daley moved on to Wyoming to play Division one women’s hoops.
“It meant everything to get to play division one basketball my whole life." Handy said. "Growing up I wanted to play D one basketball.”
But as quickly as the opportunity came, it was taken from Daley.
“The first ACL was our first basketball practice, official basketball practice." Handy said. "I came down from a rebound, like I've done a thousand times before in my career and it just twisted and popped. I'm hurt and that I'm trying to tell myself then that everything's fine. But, then that pain goes away and it just turns into shock and the world goes quiet for a little bit. As you try to tell yourself, you're fine.”
Her worst fears came true. Daley had torn essentially every ligament in her knee.
“It was heartbreaking not getting to play, not being able to play with my teammates that I loved." Handy said. "And so it was a real shock.”
She knew the road ahead was daunting, but Daley fought back and returned to the floor. She played the next year at Wyoming. After the season, she transferred to Emporia State, where she was excited for a fresh start. But it became the same story.
“It was actually before our first exhibition game against K U. I tore my ACL again.” Handy said.
A freak accident in practice meant Daley would miss another season. She was right back in the situation she thought she left behind.
“It runs through my mind of do I want to continue playing basketball?" Handy said. "Maybe, maybe God's telling me I shouldn't be playing this sport.”
But Daley wasn’t done with basketball yet.
“Okay, this is round two." Handy said. "If I did it once, I can do it again.”
She simply loves basketball to much to quit.
“So there was always that voice in the back of my head telling me I can't do it, but I wanted to prove them wrong." handy said. "I can come back a second time and I can prove that I still have what it takes to be a college basketball player.”
The scars on Daley’s knee are the lasting image of her difficult path.
“Well, I kinda think how, how ugly they are.” Handy said.
However, the scars remind her what she’s capable of.
“I just remember that I am a strong athlete and a strong person." Handy said. "I can come back from anything, whether it's an ACL or just life circumstances. I'm strong enough and I have the faith to get through anything that life throws at me.”