Editor's note: This is the eighth in an eight-part series profiling some of the state's basketball stars as 406mtsports.com previews the 2017-18 season.
BELT — For a girl who loves to be outside, Belt senior Dani Urick has certainly made herself at home in gyms across the state.
And she’s intent on savoring this final basketball season with the Huskies.
“I don’t want to wish the season by. I want to take it slow and let it sink in since it’s my last year,” said Urick.
The multi-sport standout has been part of a combined seven straight state basketball and volleyball tournament appearances for the Huskies, with hopes for one more this winter.
Those trips have resulted in three first-place trophies (two in basketball and the school’s first volleyball championship), two runner-up volleyball trophies and one third-place trophy in girls basketball her freshman year. And if that’s not enough, Urick has also made the Class C state track meet each year of her high school career.
“It’s kind of tough. It gets overwhelming with sports having one every season," said Urick.
But asking her to pick a favorite is a tough call.
“(Basketball) was definitely my favorite sport growing up, but as I’ve gotten more into volleyball I like it a lot, too,” said Urick.
Perhaps more than others, Class C athletes grow up on the sidelines of gyms that bind communities together, watching their older counterparts before stepping into their shoes. Urick, who has been in the same school since kindergarten, is no exception to this.
“I looked up to my sister (Emily Urick) a lot, usually I won’t admit that, but I did,” Urick said. “When she was a senior, I think I was in sixth grade, so I kind of grew up watching her play.”
And the legacy is mounted to the walls of the school in the form of state trophies and the banners in the gym recording state championships.
But when asked if the expectations for success ever get overwhelming, the 5-foot-8 guard is both reserved and pragmatic.
“Yeah, and that everyone wants to beat us gets really overwhelming, too, so we know we’ve got to play our best because everyone seems to play their best against us. So we play to our full potential every game,” said Urick.
An all-conference and all-state honoree for each year of her high school career, Urick has gone from the Huskies’ sixth-man her freshman year to the stalwart starter the Huskies depend on in big games, as evidenced by her 23 points in last year’s state championship game against Arlee.
“The last couple years she has turned into more of a ‘take-the-game-over’ kind of person. She’s very shy and unassuming if you get to know her. She doesn’t like to talk much, she’s very quiet, doesn’t like the spotlight,” Belt coach Jeff Graham said. “But the last couple years, you know, like her sophomore year on, she started to kind of take things over and want the ball in big games, just kind of step up to the moment. She’s done that in volleyball and track and everything.”
But Urick doesn’t seem to be motivated by the stat lines.
“Dani never even had double digits until last year," Graham said. "(Our team is) just very unselfish, but you know everyone kind of knows that she’s our leader and gets us going because she can just make things happen."
“When I was a freshman, I was looking up to the seniors and juniors, but now I can kind of see those guys are looking up to me so I’m going to do my best to lead by example on the court and off the court the best I can,” said Urick.
“She’s not a really rah-rah person,” said Graham. "You know, she goes in the weight room, she does her work, same as the classroom. She’s just kind of a quiet down-to-earth girl.”
And while she’s still undecided about where or if to continue her playing career past high school, she knows what she’ll miss the most.
“The team bonding is what I’m really going to miss,” said Urick. “Spending time with all my teammates, you know, they’re all my best friends. So it’s going to be sad when that’s over."
But it's not quite yet over. And although the time spent in gyms over her high school career has certainly outnumbered the amount of time she's had to spend outside hiking, hunting and fishing, she has managed to find moments for her other passions outside four walls. She's learned to fly fish and shot a 5-by-5 mule deer this fall.
“This hunting season I barely got any time. You know, mom’s not a big fan of letting me miss school, so if that wasn’t the case, I’d probably be out every day,” Urick said with a laugh.