By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
HOLLY SPRINGS – Harvey Childers coached some talented basketball players during his 39 seasons in the high school and junior college ranks, but he’ll tell you none were more tenacious in practice than Craig Dailey.
Dailey, 40, who coaches girls and boys hoops for Marshall Academy, played two seasons – 1989 and ’90 – for Childers at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. During that time, the Burnsville native and backup point guard developed quite a nasty reputation on the practice court.
“None of the so-called stars wanted to battle him head-to-head in practice,” Childers said, then laughed. “They’d come up to me and say, ‘Coach Childers, don’t let Dailey guard me today in practice.’
“He was so intense.”
Dailey brings that same intensity to the coaching profession. He works tirelessly during the season breaking down tape of opponents and drilling his players to prepare them for games.
Two weeks ago, Dailey reached a milestone when his Patriots and Lady Patriots swept Magnolia Heights to give him his 899th and 900th career victories in boys and girls basketball during 18 seasons at Marshall, New Albany and Delta Academy in Marks.
During his 12 seasons at Delta, Dailey’s teams won nine state championships – six girls, three boys. His 2009 Marshall girls reached the state title game. His 2010 boys reached the state’s final four.
“The wins and championships are a testament to the kids I’ve had,” said Dailey, who also serves as high school principal. “It’s not about championships. It’s about life’s lessons and growing as a person.”
The cornerstone of Dailey’s programs throughout the years has been the slogan, “We Believe.” He adopted the mantra before his senior year at Burnsville High School following the death of his mother, Nelta, from injuries suffered in a automobile accident.
Dailey was in the accident and suffered a severe hip injury, one he overcame to play basketball for Northeast.
“She had come to pick me up at a summer basketball camp at Northeast,” he recalled. “We played an all-star game at the end of camp and it was the last game she saw me play.”
He joined the Northeast team as a manager and practice player his freshman season. The Tigers played for the NJCAA national championship in Hutchinson, Kan., that year. The following season, Childers rewarded his practice star with a scholarship.
“I learned so much being able to sit on the bench next to Coach Childers,” Dailey said. “He’s a tremendous coach and an even better person.”
Dailey believes his 2010-11 Marshall boys team (12-3 as of Dec. 17) has a chance to make some noise in the postseason. The Patriots have already split with MHSAA teams Hickory Flat and Myrtle.
The Lady Patriots (9-7) have had an “up and down” season, he said, but have the potential to play with anybody.
Dailey, who claims to have a “notepad in his head” from Coach Childers, breaks down tape of every opponent and gives his players detailed, hand-written scouting reports.
“It helps me as a coach,” he said. “I want to know I’ve done everything I can to prepare my team.”
Childers isn’t surprised by Dailey’s game preparation.
“Kids who play for him will never have a coach who’ll work any harder,” the veteran coach said. “I’d want my child to be in his program.”