Danielle Bailey: A Fresh Start
By Amy Mulligan
Maryland Media Relations Staff

Danielle Bailey came to Maryland not only as a transfer athlete with limitless potential, but as a runner hoping for a fresh start in a program that's looking for the same thing.

Bailey was a senior track star at Christiana High School in Newark, Del., and was considered one of the state's top sprinters. She had her choice of high-caliber schools to begin her collegiate career at, but in the end it came down to Seton Hall and Maryland. On an official visit to College Park, she liked the campus but something didn't feel right.

"I liked the school a lot, but at the time I didn't feel I would be challenged," she said. "It just didn't feel like a good fit."

So Bailey chose Seton Hall and spent two years as a Pirate, but felt something was lacking in her training and performance.

As it turned out, it took a former Olympian to get her back to College Park.

Andrew Valmon, who won two Olympic gold medals during his career as an athlete, came to Maryland in June to take the helm of the Maryland track and field program. The name caught Bailey's eye as she was planning to leave Seton Hall.

"When I was at Seton Hall, I wasn't doing what I wanted to do there. Time-wise, I wasn't getting better," she said. "I was at a stand-still in my track career and the training there wasn't particularly for my running style, so I started searching for other schools."

Bailey thought back to her official visit to Maryland and remembered good things she had heard about the Terps' new coach.

"The reason I came back was mainly because of Coach Valmon," Bailey said.

She returned to Maryland this fall as a transfer student and a representation of the track program itself. The transition she has faced is similar to the one the program is going through - new coaching staff, new faces and, as Valmon says, "a new family."

For Bailey, what didn't feel right before has become a perfect fit.

"I came from a small school - about 6,000 people - to a big school, so it's been an adjustment," she said. "But it feels like everything that was missing before is here now. I like the coaching staff, and I feel really good about the season. I am mentally back into track and focused again."

Already, Bailey's presence has been felt in the track family. "Danielle has given us a burst of energy," Valmon said. "She's training and competing to prove something to herself. She came out of high school as a very good athlete but didn't do the things she wanted to in college, so now she is committed to getting better."

At a recent cross country meet, Bailey was scheduled to run three miles to show her new coaches what she could do.

"Coach Valmon said just go out there and run three miles and he said they would stop me so they could see my strengths," Bailey explained. "Then he said, 'Of course, unless you're in the top five finishers.' Everybody kind of laughed...but I ended up finishing second on the team.

Bailey's versatility is matched only by her determination. As a sprinter, she says she will most likely run the 200 and 400 meters, but the team may rely on her for many different events. Either way, everyone involved hopes her smooth transition translates into success for the team.

"I feel different since I've been here. I fit in with the team, I have a good connection with the coaches and I'm confident that I will get what I need while I'm here."