SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — For the first time since the 2019-2020 season, the Drury Lady Panthers played in front of an unrestricted crowd Tuesday with the day’s spotlight falling on two stars from that 2019-2020 team.
“It was a big moment,” Former Lady Panther Hailey Diestelkamp said. “Probably the biggest moment of our lives for sure. To see all those people out there just cheering us on. It makes me feel like an athlete again.”
Hailey Diestelkamp and Daejah Bernard represent two of the greatest players in Drury history from one of the greatest teams in Drury history.
And now, they are forever immortalized as only the 2nd and 3rd Lady Panthers to ever have their jerseys of No. 34 and No. 5 retired beside Amanda Newton.
“Knowing she’s the only one that’s ever done it,” Former Lady Panther Daejah Bernard said. “There’s been so many awesome players that have laced up those shoes and worn that Drury uniform. The face that we were getting honored with her. I know she’s a great player and I’m just grateful that we were able to be up there with her.”
Jerseys they took off for the final time after COVID prematurely ended a perfect season…now jerseys that will never be put on again.
Forever enshrined above the very court they haven’t set foot on since that fateful day.
“I definitely think it was very overwhelming just being back here. I think we both talked about this was our first time coming back here seeing the floor, seeing the hoops up. So it was just overwhelming coming to a basketball game. Let alone us getting recognized for that. It was just definitely overwhelming.”
Now the pair are on to their adult lives…though somewhat reluctantly.
“It sucks,” Diestelkamp joked while Bernard yelled for us to edit out the comment.
But for them, this offered a reminder of a place they call home and offered one final emotional memory on the O’Reilly court they’ll never forget.
“We stepped out of the adult world just for a little bit just to come back and just kind of be a kid again with our best friends,”Diestelkamp. “It’s just an amazing, amazing feeling.”