Aug. 5—ROCHESTER — Delaney Fleming admits she felt a bit unsure when her college recruiting window opened a year and four days ago.
Fortunately, the Rochester native and standout hockey player for the Shattuck St. Mary's girls Prep team in Faribault had a great support system to lean on.
Her older brother Maddox had gone through the process two years ago, before committing to play in the Big Ten Conference at Notre Dame.
Delaney Fleming made her choice official on Thursday, and announced it this morning — Friday, Aug. 5. The high school senior-to-be is also headed to a big-time Division I program; she'll play for head coach Nadine Muzerall and the 2022 NCAA Division I national champion Ohio State University Buckeyes.
"Right away, when I first talked to coach 'Muzz' I knew she's an amazing coach and person," Fleming said. "I really respect what she's done with the program and how she runs the team. I knew I want to be coached by someone like her."
Fleming called Muzerall on Thursday to make her verbal commitment official. The two met on Wednesday in the Twin Cities and talked about the Buckeyes program over lunch, while Muzerall was in town to work at a camp that Fleming's younger sister, Sawyer, was attending.
"I had a good amount of schools to choose from, but (the decision) wasn't hard in the end," Delaney said. "Ohio State is where I've wanted to go since the beginning. We've been talking for awhile — since last summer when the recruiting (window) opened up. It's nice to finally make a decision."
Delaney Fleming grew up in Rochester, working her way up through the Rochester Youth Hockey Association ranks. She joined Lourdes' varsity team as a seventh-grader in 2017-18 and played three seasons for the Eagles, helping them reach the Class A state tournament in 2019 and 2020.
Delaney had 21 points in 30 games as a freshman in 2019-20, her final season at Lourdes, when the Eagles placed fourth in the state tournament.
Sawyer, who will be a sophomore at Shattuck this fall, was a seventh-grader on that Lourdes team, recording 11 goals and 26 points in 30 games.
"I think starting young in Rochester definitely helped," Delaney Fleming said. "Playing on a team with my sister, I truly learned to love hockey. We were always on the same youth teams, that's where I learned to love it. I was always happy I could be playing with her — happy on the bench and on the ice, in the locker room. We were just having fun.
"It never felt like work ... it was just fun."
The Fleming sisters transitioned to Shattuck in the 2020-21 school year. Delaney had eight goals and 13 points in 31 games that season for Shattuck's 16U team. She flourished as a junior this past season, when the speedy 5-foot-4 forward scored 21 goals and 42 points in 60 games.
"I chose Shattuck because I knew it'd be a place that has unlimited resources and I would get better there, and I feel like I definitely have," Fleming said. "We're on the ice twice a day for practice and are in the gym at least twice a week. You can't get worse when you're putting that much into it.
"The coaches are great; they help you figure out which parts of your game you need to work on, and in the gym I've gotten a lot stronger."
Just more than a year ago — Aug. 1, 2021 — college coaches could begin talking with incoming high school juniors. Ohio State was one of the first programs — among many — to reach out to Fleming.
"(Muzerall) mentioned I have a lot of raw talent and along with that my work ethic is very, very good," Fleming said. "She said she liked that I'm always one of the hardest workers on the ice, the first one on and last one off. And my speed, she said that's something she loved. Since I was young, I've been told that's my greatest gift."
Her decision now made, Fleming — who turned 17 in late May — said she is happy to enter her senior season with the weight of the recruiting process off her shoulders.
"Last summer, when it all opened up, I was a little overwhelmed at first," she said. "It was difficult at times during last season to be scared to not make mistakes. Then I realized, the coaches like you for your game. Just play your game; that's what they're looking for — who you are as a player."