On Saturday, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson will get their turn to walk out to center court on Senior Day with their parents and greet Geno Auriemma one last formal time.
The day will have extra significance since both players will also see their uniform numbers raised to the Huskies Wall of Honor, since both are All-Americans.
On Monday, I spoke to Kristal Dolson about her daughter.
“Stefanie narrowed her college list down very quickly. She went to camp at Maryland when she was either a freshman or a sophomore in high school and Brenda Frese [the Maryland coach] was the one who gave her the first opportunity. We feel in love with her. I bonded with her; she was pregnant with her twins [Kristal has been a delivery and post-natal nurse for 25 years]. In fact, her husband was taking notes about what to do when the babies were being born. It was very nice.
“Then we visited Rutgers and Penn State, Duke and North Carolina. I think UNC was out quickly, she didn’t like Rutgers, Penn State was just OK. So it came down to Duke, Maryland and UConn. Stefanie, her sister Ashley and my son Jake, literally drove down the east coast with her to visit Duke and UNC.
“But we never had “the discussion [about which school].” If anything, it was mostly conversations in the car, particularly with my husband, Steve, who drove to St. John’s [from Port Jervis, N.Y.) with Stefanie twice a week for AAU practices.
“Then one night, and I will never forget this, we are in the kitchen during her junior year and she suddenly blurts out, ‘Uh, I made a decision, I’m going to UConn,’ She was just standing there in front of the sink. It happened just like that.
“I’m thinking, ‘What, have you thought about this …I was sure she would backpedal’ … Nope, she never did.
“But I knew in my heart when we visited UConn it was the place for her. I remember sitting on one the stone benches outside Gampel, looking around and thinking, ‘This is it. This is so much like home, so much like her. But I kept the feeling to myself.’”
“She finally decided Christmas Day  would be the day to tell [Geno Auriemma]. She made a gingerbread cookie of a girl with a UConn outfit on, set it up on the dining room table, took a picture of it and sent it to him.
“Many of the schools [we visited] were great schmoozers, I will give them that. UConn doesn’t schmooze very well. But you know, it’s not what our family is about and its likely why she ended up where she did.
“But I was so nervous for her when she left. I knew there would be so much pressure. Geno can be intimidating; Stef can be sensitive, I wasn’t sure how all that would go. So I worried. I knew she had it in her. But at that time in her life she wasn’t super-motivated; things seemed to come easy for her. I used to tell her, Stefanie you are tall, but eventually … She just had to find it inside herself.
“But it’s been phenomenal. It couldn’t have turned out any better for her.”