Fans will get to see the trademark sparkled headband on the Betty hardwood for a little bit longer. UND standout Faith Dooley will finish out her fantatic volleyball career this season but will be joining the Fighting Hawks basketball team for the following two seasons, certainly bad news for opponents but great news for North Dakota fans that have become accustomed to her lead-by-example attitude and outstanding athletic gifts.
She already has taken an eraser to the school's volleyball record book-- most notably the blocks marks. She owns three of the top five single-season marks for total blocks and goes into her senior season just a dozen shy of breaking the career record which has stood intact since 1991 (Karla Danielson- 488). Once she gets that record and helps UND in its defense of its Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles, she'll continue the practices and games at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, this time in search of blocks around the basketball rim.
"It was always in the back of my head since I came in as a freshman, but I knew for sure that I wanted to play after I talked with (UND head women's basketball coach) Coach Travis Brewster about it," Dooley said. "I have missed playing basketball, and though I might have a little rust to knock off, I'm excited to play. This summer will be a little bit different from years past, because I will be able to practice some with the basketball team before I fully start volleyball for my last season this fall. I plan to work out some and play some with the girls this summer, but I will be focusing on giving my last season of volleyball all I have first. Long term I will need to make sure I am taking care of my body, so that it is healthy for putting it through two college sports seasons. I am excited to play basketball and continue competing as a Hawk."
Dooley was a three-sport star as a prep at Central Cass High School (Casselton, N.D.), including all-region accolades in both volleyball and basketball. She led the Squirrels to a 2011 state title in volleyball and regional title matches in her junior and senior seasons.
On the hoops court, the six-foot-three Dooley averaged 21 points, over 12 rebounds and six blocked shots in her senior campaign. She finished runner-up in the Miss Basketball voting in the state, powering her Central Cass team to the Class B championship game by charting a triple-double in the semifinals.
"I remember watching Faith play high school basketball. She was a highly-touted volleyball recruit for Coach Ashley Hardee," Brewster said. "Faith was also a gifted athlete on the basketball court, that could become a force if she developed her skills, because Faith has a tremendous work ethic. I wanted to respect her desire to play volleyball collegiately. Recently, we had an exciting conversation about playing basketball again. We talked about how to make the most of her experience and to maximize her time between the two sports.
"Faith has uncanny leadership abilities and it’s rare to have a multi-sport student-athlete of her ability. The community, university, and UND athletics will get to continue to see her compete in a women’s basketball uniform."
In addition to her blocking prowess, Dooley has been an offensive threat, too. She has scored 1300 points in her three seasons, already sixth-most of any UND player in the rally-scoring era. Her .308 career hitting percentage ranks second highest in the school record book.
"I always tell our kids, you only get a chance to be in college once, take advantage of every opportunity," UND head volleyball coach Mark Pryor said. "This was just an opportunity that I thought she should pursue. This is a great opportunity for Faith to continue her education here at North Dakota. She is set to graduate this December, so she will have finished her Bachelor's Degree in three and a half years. By having two seasons to play hoops, she allows herself a great opportunity to finish two degrees here at the University of North Dakota, which will set her up well for her future."
The situation is a symbiotic one for both programs. Volleyball continues to have one of its key cogs in a machine that churns out wins with regularity. Basketball will get a rim protector and an athlete that was also an accomplished high jumper in high school. Dooley will get to continue her education and keep wowing fans at the Betty with her unassuming-but-lethal athletic abilities while the light reflects off that sparkled headband. UND hopes that shadows will continue to be cast on it from championship banners hanging in the rafters.
"Faith was just relieved that Brew is going to let her wear her signature sequin headbands that the crowds have come to expect," Pryor quipped. "She told me that would be a definite deal breaker if she couldn't."
No worries there, UND fans. If history holds true, she'll have some championship-ring sparkle on her fingers as well with both teams at the top of the heap in the Big Sky Conference.