SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Drury Lady Panthers seniors have enjoyed a lot of success over the past four years.
Longevity attained through consistency.
Nobody has embodied the Drury Lady Panthers relentless style of defense quite like Daejah Bernard.
The senior from St. Joseph, Missouri haunted GLVC offenses year after year, earning three straight conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“I just think that I had a really good bond right away with Coach (Molly) Miller. I think that’s kind of how I’ve gotten my success,” Daejah Bernard said. “Me and Coach Miller are really close. She always says we finish each others’ sentences.”
That close relationship helped Bernard become the school record holder for most game played, most victories, most single game assists, most single season assists and most career assists along with more steals than almost anyone.
But all those school records almost went unbroken, if it weren’t for one fateful day.
“So I did play Hailey (Diestelkamp) at state. At the State tournament both of our senior years. Coach Miller and her Dad were both there recruiting her,” Bernard said. “I had no idea the success that we were going to have, the seasons that we’ve had, the relationships, the bonds. I had no idea. I’m so glad that I chose Drury.”
Great is almost an understatement as Bernard fit perfectly, matching her defensive intensity with Head Coach Molly Millers’.
“I think that’s one of the main reasons Coach Miller and I bonded at the beginning: both of our passion for defense,” Bernard said. “She was always like, ‘Daejah if you play defense you’re going to be on the floor. You’re going to start.'”
And now, Miller would love to see Bernard pass on that knowledge in the coaching world.
But for the time being, Bernard has her eyes for the future set elsewhere.
“Yeah, for sure she’s definitely been trying for four years to get me into coaching,” Bernard said. “I don’t think that’s the career path I want to be on. I’m going to start applying to occupational therapy schools. I want to eventually become a pediatric occupational therapist. I think that’s the route I’m going to go for now. Maybe down the road I might be a coach.”
And Coach Miller is still holding out hope for that possibility.
“Someday she might get sick of that real world stuff and want to get back to basketball,” Molly Miller said. “It might not happen immediately. I’m still gonna hold my cards and play them when the right time comes when she’s maybe getting sick of the corporate world and wants to get her taste back into coaching. I told her I’d hire her in a heartbeat.”