A Fresh Start
Dubuque, IA. - In August of 2018, Allison Bailey did not know what the future held in her basketball career or life after undergoing heart surgery.
Now, however, she has a new school, a new team and a new outlook.
“It was really hard to watch all of my teammates play the game they love and realize that I couldn’t play. It was really difficult for me to even set foot in a gym, let alone watch a game knowing I wasn’t out there doing it with them,” Bailey said.
The heart surgery was difficult for both Allison and her family. Amy Bailey, Allison’s mother, said the surgery lasted longer than expected and she felt that Allison was discharged from the hospital soon. It made the start her sophomore year even harder.
“Dropping her off at college alone was the hardest thing I had to do. She could barely walk. It broke my heart,” Amy said.
After beginning her career at Wartburg in 2017, Allison has now made a transition to the University of Dubuque and is extremely happy with her decision.
“It’s all about putting a lot of faith into my teammates, knowing every day they are going to push me and I’m going to push them back. It’s a team game and a lot of praise goes to them,” Allison said.
Allison said one of the challenges she has faced at her new school is being farther away from home, but because of live-streaming, she is still able to watch her younger sister play and that has helped her a lot.
Head coach Mark Noll said she has been a welcome addition to the team and is happy to have her.
“She fits the kind of player that I love in the fact that she is a great teammate, she’s a leader, she communicates and everyone around her enjoys being around her,” Noll said.
Former teammates say Allison’s on and of court contributions should come as no surprise.
“She had more confidence in me than I sometimes had in myself,” former teammate Katie Sommer said. “She was the type of teammate and player who would make you better, push you in practice and be the biggest supporter in games.”
The transition to a new team has come with some bumps and bruises along the way but has been overall a positive change, not just for Allison, but for those close to her as well.
“We had some pretty serious questions to ask, more as they pertained to Alli as a person, rather than just a basketball player,” Amy said. “Coaches went above and beyond to help Alli make the transition to UD and help her get settled. As parents, that means a great deal. At the end of the day, we all felt a sense of peace and comfort.”
Ask her coaches and they will tell you that Allison’s decision to come to Dubuque has benefitted her new team as well.
“As a coach, I need players that I can be myself around and she has allowed me to do that. Our relationship is great and because of that I know that when I need to, I can coach her a little harder and she’s not going to take it the wrong way,” Noll said.
Noll has also taken notice of the mentality she brings every day.
“I think Alli’s background, with the heart, she’s already had to go through realizing life is short so let’s have fun and do things we love. Because real-life stuff, that’s going to be down the road, but these days of playing basketball and having fun with your friends, that’s only a short part of your life,” Noll said.
As a freshman, Allison saw the court in under a third of the games that season and scored a career-high of eight points, a figure that she is nearly averaging this year with the Spartans as a junior and has even seen herself in the starting lineup to open several games.
Allison believes a lot of her success has come partially because she spent a season away from basketball and was able to get a new perspective on the game and life.
“After taking a year off and knowing life is short, I take a lot of small victories when I can get them. Stepping back out on that court, I was all smiles,” Allison said.
Allison’s friends can also see how happy she is being back around basketball
“Basketball completes her and it was so tough seeing the game she loves played without her. I am extremely proud of how she handled all her obstacles. You would have never known what she was going through because she always had a smile on her face,” Sommer said.
Whether she is starting or coming off the bench after spending a year away from the game she loves, Allison is just happy to be back in the game and is excited for what the future holds for her on the court.
“Knowing that I’m surrounded by people who love me and believe in me really pushes me past the point to where I know I can be greater,” Allison said.