By Michael Boeck
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Leaving the locker room, the game just minutes away, Tasha Dickey walked down the hallway concentrating and preparing for the game at hand. What goes through her mind isn't anything new: remember her assignments, thank God for this chance to play the game she loves, and wish her family was there to dance in their seats cheering for her.
She turned to the wall, smiled and gave homage to the picture of her mother with knuckles as if to say, "Here we go, Mom."
Home is where the heart is. After living in so many places, the only place Dickey has ever called home is with her family.
Dickey, a graduate student in sports administration at K-State, is excited to share her final year of eligibility with her family in Manhattan after conflicting schedules and weather prevented them from seeing her play as a Wildcat in Arizona.
The University of Arizona is also where her father Charlie Dickey played football. Currently, he is the offensive line coach at K-State after previous stints at Arizona, the University of Washington, and the University Utah.
Dickey's mother, Lisa, who is also a native of Jetmore, Kan., attended Arizona and played basketball there after playing two seasons at Dodge City Community College.
"That's one of the main reasons why I went to Arizona," said Dickey. "It was our Dickey legacy to go there. I had to walk in my mom's steps."
Walking in her mother's footsteps led Dickey to earning Pac-10 All-Freshman team honorable mention honors during her first season in Tucson.
Unfortunately, her freshman year also ended with an injury that sidelined her the following year, and when her junior campaign came around, Dickey put her guard up.
"It was hard to come back from that injury and trust myself," said Dickey. "Believing I can still drive to the basket without breaking my ankle and being able to shoot was tough."
As graduation drew near, Dickey found herself losing passion for the game she loved the most, and that was difficult.
"As parents you see your children struggling, and it is hard," said Lisa. "I believe in meeting struggles. We encouraged her to not give up on her dream."
The "coach" in Dickey's father reminded her of the one remaining year of eligibility she had left.
"When he first said that I said ‘no, Dad I'm done'," said Dickey. "I didn't want to play basketball anymore and I lost my passion for it a little bit at Arizona. But you know when everything is said and done, and you're looking at your life, like I said before, I want my girls to look at me as a model, and I don't want to tell them ‘keep fighting, keep going' when I quit myself."
"We are not quitters," said Lisa. "We fight."
And fight is exactly what Dickey did.
Her debut as a K-State Wildcat was nothing short of remarkable. In the 23 minutes she played, and started, she had a career-high 20 points, a career-high six steals, five rebounds and a career-high two blocks in a 54-20 win over Dartmouth.
Her debut achievements compare to those of Laurie Koehn in most points scored in a debut as Koehn recorded 27 against Georgia Tech (on Nov.16, 2001). Dickey's six steals were also the most steals by a Wildcat since Shalee Lehning's six against Chattanooga in the NCAA tournament in 2008.
"It's unbelievable," said junior guard Brittany Chambers. "She brings so much athleticism to our court that we haven't had for a long time, and she plays with so much energy."
Dickey said coming to K-State was the easiest choice she's ever made. Not only has she come home to her family, but she has made a new one with her team.
"Basically it is a dream come true," said Dickey. "Coming to practice and knowing that I have a second family in my teammates and my own family there cheering me on is a dream come true."
"Deb brings out the diamonds in the kids," said Lisa. "I love that Tasha wants to be a coach, and Deb saw her, even when she lost confidence in herself and she said ‘I see you, you need to come out'."
With help from Coach Patterson and company, Dickey is playing as if she has something to prove.
"She's something that we really haven't had in a while and we wish we had one more year out of her and not just one year," said Chambers.
"I tell Tasha when she's out on the court, you take it by storm, and you do the best that you can," said Lisa.
In the Wildcats' Big 12 opener against No. 9 Texas A&M, Dickey was 6-for-6 from the field, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, 3-for-3 from the foul line and ended the night with 17 points to lead her team to an upset win.
Dickey is currently second on the team in steals, and ranks 10th in the Big 12 for steals in league games. In addition, she is fourth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 50-percent.
Overall, Dickey is averaging 9.8 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.9 steals.
"It truly has been a blessing," said Dickey. "A lot of people don't get a chance to go from two schools and even play."
"We are so grateful," said Lisa. "This has been a dream for us. We never thought it would happen. She's cheering for her father, and he's cheering for her."