Glenwood’s Gaddis a perfect fit in LCU’s culture
Lubbock Christian University coach Steve Gomez continues to sustain a nationally competitive program with a roster that consists almost entirely of players from Texas.
And as is the case most years, the core of the team comes from West Texas. Four of the Lady Chaparrals’ top five scorers and five of the top eight in minutes played grew up in or not far from Lubbock.
Then there’s Delaney Gaddis, the Lady Chap who came down from Colorado.
“She’s got that West Texas personality,” LCU star forward Tess Bruffey said.
The speedy senior guard doesn’t check many of the boxes above, other than she embodies the Lady Chaps’ spirit. Gaddis, who’s started all 32 games for the 31-1 Lady Chaps, was a Class 4A second-team all-state player at Glenwood Springs and came to LCU after two seasons at Otero Junior College in La Junta.
The Lady Chaps are currently in the Elite Eight of the Division II NCAA Tournament, where they’ll take on Central Missouri at 11 a.m. Monday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
What’s made her a good fit?
“A lot of it’s personality,” Gomez said. “She’s just a great team person. She’s athletic. She defends. But she’s got something about her that you know you’d want on your team.
“Some of those intangibles, you maybe not can tell on the stat sheet, but every day in practice and in games, people can see that she makes a big difference with her leadership qualities.”
Gaddis’ numbers are modest: She averages 6.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.88 assists per game. But she also plays 27.2 minutes a game, averages fewer than two turnovers and, on any given night, is the quickest or one of the quickest players on the floor.
“And then her defense and her willingness to do whatever it takes for the team,” Gomez said. “I think she’s always been that on her teams in high school and in junior college: a glue-type kid. She may not get a lot of the glory, but you need them.”
LCU started the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Heartland Conference tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Lady Chaps went on to win the Heartland Conference tournament championship after defeating Arkansas-Fort Smith, 69-61. Following the tournament championship, the Lady Chaps have won three straight tournament games to reach the Elite Eight. If this weekend is like most, Gaddis will get to see her parents, Ken and Jacky, who sold their businesses in cabinet making and property management and moved to Texas to watch their daughter’s senior season.
“They’ve been able to follow the whole season, come to every game,” Gaddis said.
The Lady Chaps’ guard is one of five siblings, age 19-30, who were named in alphabetical order: Ashley, Barrett, Cassidy, Delaney and Easton.
“And then we had a dog, Foster, and our last name was Gaddis,” Delaney said, “so they called us the alphabet soup. My mom takes pride in that.”
Family’s a big consideration for Gaddis, and she feels as if she’s found a second one in Lubbock. In separate conversations, Gaddis and Bruffey both noted that Gaddis has been in the program only two years, but each said it feels like four.
“She’s like a sister to us,” Bruffey said, “and honestly it feels like I’ve been playing with her since my very first year. … She’s a servant leader, and she’s really good for us.”
Though Gaddis is an exception to the Lady Chaps’ usual recruiting pipeline of players from the I-27 corridor or close by, LCU had an earlier link. Guard Bailey Haist, a senior last season, spent part of her childhood in Lubbock and also came to LCU from Otero.
Gaddis is just grateful that, after signing Haist, the Lady Chaps found her, too. It’s led to a rewarding past couple of seasons.
“The community and people on campus, the coaches, the teachers, the girls, it’s just been such a blessing,” Gaddis said, “and it makes playing basketball a lot more fun and a lot easier, to have the support system that we do. LCU’s just kind of a different place. You can’t really explain it, on the court and off the court.”