Blazing her own path from a trail previously traveled by her older sisters is nothing out of the ordinary for Dara Mabrey.

In fact, it’s generally been the route most often taken throughout her ascent in the basketball community, a natural course of trajection when you are the youngest of three basketball savants who have forever etched their names in the lore of Shore Conference girls basketball.

When their journeys veered in different directions occurred after high school. While Michaela and Marina Mabrey chose Notre Dame as their collegiate landing spot upon graduation from Manasquan, each helping the Irish to a national championship during her time in South Bend, Dara opted for a different locale, heading to Virginia Tech.

The road traveled offered different terrain, a program in Blacksburg trying to climb the steep hill toward respectability, measured against a program like Notre Dame, already established at the top, rooted amongst the elite in women’s basketball.

With certain circumstances driving her decision, Dara Mabrey’s career veered back along that original path taken by her older siblings on Thursday when she announced she would be transferring from Virginia Tech to Notre Dame.

“I thought about it so much,” Mabrey said, reflecting on her choice to head to Virginia Tech after high school and building an identity separate from the school where her sisters authored shadowing resumes. “But, I can blaze my own path wherever I go.”

She already has proof of that. While Michaela was a cerebral and intuitive playmaker at Manasquan, Marina was an imposing physical presence with finesse whether around the rim or beyond the arc, more forward or off-guard though fully capable of fulfilling practically any requirement on the hardwood. Each powered the Warriors to a Tournament of Champions crown.

Dara was cast in a smaller version, a few inches shorter than her sisters but driven by the same passion to compete and win that fueled Michaela and Marina, a part of two TOC title teams at Manasquan and equipped with a fierce drive that should play well for the Irish and their new coaching staff, one led by head coach Niele Ivey, who replaced Muffet McGraw, who retired at the conclusion of this past season, and features Michaela Mabrey as one of Ivey’s assistants.

One of the features Notre Dame had to offer was it’s annual championship aspirations, a realistic achievement to envision for the Irish year after year.

“It’s everything,” Mabrey said of vying for titles in South Bend. “No disrespect toward Virginia Tech...they compete for different things and I was happy to be part of that team. I’m looking forward to being on a team that is going to compete for a national championship. That is always the final goal at Notre Dame.”

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