Rae Lin D'Alie has always been a hard worker, a dedicated athlete and a coach on the floor for the Wisconsin women's basketball team. Now, she has permanently etched her name among the top Wisconsin athletes ever.
When the senior guard grabbed the opening tip-off in the Badger's win two weeks ago against Indiana, D'Alie became the all-time leader in most games played, most games started and most consecutive games played in program history. The Watertown, Wis., native has now played in 125 consecutive games, 124 of those as a starter.
D'Alie's future was far from foreseeable when she first arrived at Wisconsin. Although one of the most prolific athletes ever to come out of Watertown High School, at just 5'3"" D'Alie was overlooked by many programs and was a late signing for the Badgers.
However, that didn't stop her from starting her very first collegiate game, and creating a legacy that will long outlast her time at Wisconsin.
""She's logged the most minutes, she's been in uniform, on the court more often than anyone else and still has this passion,"" head coach Lisa Stone said. ""Her leadership, her ability, her energy and her commitment to the program defines her.""
While the first 35 games of her freshman season may have been her most unexpected and exciting, it was the 36th and final contest of that year that might have been one of her most disappointing. Playing at Wyoming in the WNIT championship game, D'Alie went down with a thumb injury in the opening minutes and never returned to the game.
However, over the next three seasons, D'Alie continued to build her reputation both at Wisconsin and throughout the Big Ten as a force to be reckoned with as well as a natural leader on the court. Now, in her senior year, D'Alie might have the most important games of her life yet ahead of her.
""We're on the cusp of something special,"" Stone said. ""[D'Alie] wants this year to be the best and right now, it has been her best in my opinion because of the way she's committed herself.""
Wisconsin will be a very different team in the 2010-'11 season without Rae Lin D'Alie, although one of her finest legacies is yet to pan out.
D'Alie has become both a friend and a mentor for red shirt sophomore transfer Tiera Stephen. Stephen transferred from Louisville this past offseason, where she had started for the Cardinals in their run to the Final Four last year. Because of NCAA rules, the two will never be able to play a game on the court together, but D'Alie has certainly left a lasting impression on the future Badger.
""Tiera would tell you that she wishes she could play with Rae, but she's learning,"" Stone said. ""There couldn't be a better case scenario because you have a player that's transferred that gets to learn [the system for] a year, as well as the leadership capabilities that Rae Lin possess.""
While D'Alie will play her final game as a Badger in a few weeks, and graduate from the University of Wisconsin in just a few short months, she isn't about to leave basketball behind. D'Alie's future aspirations and dreams include one day coaching at the Division I level.
""She wants to be a coach and she will be a coach. She's going to be a great asset to any program,"" Stone said while also considering the future of Wisconsin basketball without D'Alie. ""We'll miss her smile, we'll miss her commitment, we'll miss her friendship. There will never be another Rae Lin D'Alie.""