At Michigan, Amy Dilk ready for the challenge

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 6:26pm

Incoming freshman Amy Dilk looks to make an immediate impact, something she has been preparing since long ago.

Incoming freshman Amy Dilk looks to make an immediate impact, something she has been preparing since long ago. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Michigan Athletics

Amy Dilk was a freshman in high school when she got her first taste of what it was like to play at Crisler Center.

With the rest of her team from Carmel (Ind.) High School, the Michigan women’s basketball recruit was attending the Wolverines’ team camp, a one-day tournament featuring high school and Amateur Athletic Union teams. Dilk and her teammates met Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico and her assistants and toured the facilities and the locker rooms.

Back then, Dilk was just a girl with big goals. Lead Carmel’s team to success. Play for a Big Ten school. Maybe even win the Indiana Miss Basketball award.

Now, what were once intangible dreams have become reality. Dilk became a five-star recruit. She started at point guard all four years on a high school team that always threatened in the playoffs. In 2018, she won not only Indiana Miss Basketball but the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year for girls’ basketball too. And after attending team camp one last time the summer before her senior year, Dilk committed to Michigan. It had quickly become her dream school.

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At a school like Carmel — which faced the toughest schedule in Indiana all four years of Dilk’s career — many of its opponents featured athletes who would also go on to play Division I basketball. Starting as a freshman meant being thrown into the fire.

“She was a skinny little 5-foot-7 kid … that possessed a very high basketball IQ and great, great ball-handling skills and just a knack to play,” said Tod Windlan, Dilk’s coach at Carmel. “… She was baptized from day one.”

Dilk stepped up instantly. She was constantly in pursuit of improvement, working on her shot, her speed and her defense. She found new ways to get the ball off and even took a weightlifting class to improve her strength. Meanwhile, Windlan pushed his athletes, supplementing their conference schedules with out-of-state games and offseason tournaments like the team camp.

“(We) always made sure that we’d tell (Barnes Arico), ‘Hey, the three games we’re gonna play, we want the three best teams you’ve got there,’ ” Windlan said. “ ‘We wanna be challenged.’ ”

Dilk relished every opportunity to challenge herself against top competition — and thrived.

Her junior year, up against a top-10 team, Dilk put up a triple-double and single-handedly controlled the game. Her senior year, in the sectional semifinals, she dislocated her knee late in the third quarter. In the fourth, with Carmel down five, the trainer motioned to Windlan. Dilk was ready to go back in. She scored 14 consecutive points and went on to lead her team to its third consecutive sectional victory.

“I just wanted to come back and play and help my team win,” Dilk said. “I didn’t want to go out of my high school career with an injury like that.”

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Growing up in suburban Indiana, Dilk was surrounded by the Big Ten. Though she didn’t cheer for any particular team, she constantly watched Big Ten basketball and knew it was where she wanted to play.

And as she developed into a top recruit, she had her pick of the conference’s top schools. She got offered by Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State as well as Kentucky and Louisville. But the Wolverines always stood out.

“I had a really good relationship with the coaches and I met the players,” Dilk said. “And at Michigan, you’re surrounded by success academically and (with) all the sports here.”

She looked forward to every visit and every conversation with the Michigan coaches. She loved the atmosphere of the team camp and developed relationships with the players. Everything — the academics, the culture, the team staff — seemed like a good fit. Still, Dilk wanted to wait until she was sure.

It took a year, but after one last team camp, she knew she wanted to be a Wolverine. Now, the next time she plays at Crisler, it will be in a Michigan uniform. And just like her freshman year in high school, she’ll take the court with a new set of goals — ones she knows she has the potential to reach.

“I want to be pushed, I want to push others, I want to succeed in basketball but also in academics,” Dilk said.

“We want to win.”