KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It hit Emma Dailey at the oddest time, a thought that bounced around inside her skull like a soccer ball with some english.
Dailey realized this summer that time is fleeting. There will come a day when she will no longer be on the pitch, scoring goals for the juggernaut Karns City girls soccer team coached by her mother, Tracy Dailey. There will also come a day, perhaps in six or so years, when she will no longer be playing college soccer, either.
“It was like, holy cow, I only have two more years of high school soccer, and then it’s off to the big leagues in college soccer,” Dailey said. “Then I only have four years of that and then it’s all over from there.”
(Pictured above: Emma Dailey beats a Slippery Rock player to the ball during action last season/photo by Keri Hayes)
Dailey, like most high school athletes, has already learned a hard lesson about how fragile playing sports can be. The COVID-19 pandemic was a prime example last spring and throughout the 2020-21 school year that nothing can be taken for granted.
Dailey has taken that seriously — just like she takes the game of soccer.
Knowing her future awaits her, Dailey has attended a couple of camps this summer, in part to get better and also to get noticed. She has already garnered plenty of attention from Grove City College, where her father, Jake Dailey, played football in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
While Emma Dailey isn’t pulling the plug on the recruiting process yet, the Wolverines have already piqued her interest.
In reference to Grove City College women’s soccer coach Melissa Lamie, Dailey explained, “She’s very textbook.
“It’s like pass, pass, pass, pass, get something out of it, and I just like that as a player. That’s the type of style of play I like.
“We also learned about the culture there,” Dailey added. “I loved it.”
The culture at Karns City isn’t too bad, either, and Dailey is determined to put the Gremlins back on top of the district after seeing a streak of eight consecutive D9 titles snapped last season in a 5-4 loss to Coudersport.
Dailey and fellow junior McKenna Martin have become a formidable 1-2 punch for Karns City. Last year, Martin scored 24 goals and added 11 assists. Dailey found the net 18 times to go with 13 assists.
Speed is their calling card.
Dailey is also tall — 5-foot-10 — which helps her on headers.
She’s modeled her play after another tall forward, two-time Olympic gold medalist Carli Lloyd.
Dailey had a chance to see Lloyd play years ago in Cleveland as a member of the NJ/NY Gotham FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Dailey became an instant fan.
“I would like to meet (her),” Dailey said. “I have watched her for the longest time, and she just has such a great work ethic, and I kind of want to let my play reflect what she does. I watch her very closely when I watch her games.
“Just seeing her play in person was amazing,” she added. “It’s way different than watching it on TV. You can see how they are communicating with each other. You can see the intensity of the game and that was just the little spark I needed. I wanted to be like her.”
Dailey, though, is very much her own player. She comes from an athletic family and is keeping that legacy alive as she also plays basketball at Karns City.
Before Dailey was 10 years old, her family had moved four times. Jake Dailey was a construction worker when the housing market crashed in Pennsylvania, so they had to move where the work was.
That resulted in Emma Dailey being born in Ohio, her younger sister, Hannah, 13, being born in South Carolina, and her brother, Jaxx, 9, being born in Virginia.
Three children born in three different states.
“That’s something people probably don’t know about me,” Emma Dailey said. “I’ve lived in four different states in the 16 years of my life.”
And, while she is a big fan of Lloyd, there’s another soccer figure closer to home that she sees as her biggest role model.
“My mom. She has worked so hard for everything that she wants,” Dailey said. “She’s made the Karns City women’s soccer program so successful.”
And, then there’s her dad, too.
“He is the kind of person who expects the best out of me every single time,” Dailey said. “He may be hard on me, but I realize that’s because he only wants me to be better and wants the best for me.”