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Childhood friends continuing basketball careers at UVM
Childhood friends continuing basketball careers at UVM
Published: Jan. 15, 2023 at 7:04 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Just a short 50-minute drive separates the towns of Zionsville and Greenwood, Indiana. Since they met, that’s as far as Delaney Richason and Emma Utterback have been from each other on the basketball court. They played for different high schools, but were on the same AAU team starting in fifth grade.

“We knew who each other was, but we never played on the same team before that,” Richason said. “Then we played on the same team, and...”

“...ever since then,” Utterback said, finishing Richason’s sentence, as only close friends can. “I played against her team when we were younger. They were really good, and we were really good at the time. Whenever we played each other, it was kind of like a rivalry. So we grabbed a couple players from their team and brought them over, and made our own new team.”

Once UVM started recruiting the two of them, they were able to keep their recruitments at arm’s length from each other. They did, however, overlap on a campus visit just before their senior year of high school.

“We spent some time together on the visit but we kept it separate, to make the decision on our own. Because that’s a huge decision,” Richason said.

Two different paths were then formed to get from Indiana to Burlington. Right after that visit, though, their paths merged when they were ready to tell head coach Alisa Kresge they wanted to be Catamounts.

“I called Kres, and Delaney was trying to call Kres at the same time I was on the phone to commit,” Utterback recalled. “She didn’t know Kres was on the phone with me. So I committed, and then five minutes later, she called Kres and she committed. So it was back-to-back, and we didn’t know the other person was comitting. We were like, ‘no way!’”

High school basketball in Indiana is different - as the saying goes, ‘in 49 other states, it’s just basketball.’ Growing up in that environment prepared Emma and Delaney for the grind of Division I basketball. So much so, that they’ve started every game of their college careers.

“We’re so grateful for both of our high school experiences,” Utterback said. “We went through a lot of plays and had a lot of structure, it reminded me of a college program. Learning that at a young age engrained it in our brains, and it made the transition easier in that sense.”

There are plenty of impressive numbers attached to each of their resumes, but the impact the duo has on the program goes beyond any box score. All stemming from their tight-knit upbringing.

“They’re the first to have their teammates backs. That’s the first thing I see from them, is they’re such wonderful human beings to our team,” Kresge said. “This is really a family atmosphere, and we talk a lot about it, but if they don’t believe it and live it, then it’s never going to be that way. When you have leaders that way, it really helps younger players coming in to be themselves and know that somebody is going to have their back. Delaney and Emma always have each other’s back.”

They call themselves homebodies. And even though they’re a little over 700 miles from where they grew up, they’re together, so home never feels that far away.

“This experience has grown our friendship and our bond, we’re not going to be able to live without one another at this point,” Utterback said, as Delaney nodded in agreement. “Very grateful for this friendship and that Vermont made us closer, and a friendship that never got to die out where the distance seperated. We were able to make it stronger. I wish we had more than five years.”

“She’s friends with all my friends, I’m friends with all her friends,” Richason said. “It’s really fun to be with each other all the time. We live together here and everything.”