Paige Bueckers’ parents: Her dad wanted her to pursue other sports

Paige Bueckers has demonstrated remarkable resilience during her playing career for the University of Connecticut. She joined UConn as the number one player in her class, but she’d barely missed a game during her meteoric rise. Then, she spent most of her sophomore season out with a knee injury. 

Despite her desire to return to the court, where she’d spent most of her time since she was 5, Paige resisted the temptation to rush her return. In late March 2022, following an injury to teammate Dorka Juhasz, Paige inspired her team to an incredible 91-87 double-overtime victory, demonstrating that the injury had done little to slow her momentum.

Paige’s parents have supported her career since she first picked a basketball. This piece takes a closer look at Paige Bueckers’ parents. 

Paige Bueckers was born on 20th October 2001 in Edina, Minnesota, to Amy Dettbarn and Bob Bueckers. Amy and Bob divorced when Paige was three. Bob remained with Paige in Minnesota, while Amy remarried and moved to Billings, Montana. 

Bueckers noted Paige’s athletic ability early on and introduced her to several sports, including baseball, soccer, basketball, and American football. Bob was a star point guard during his high school days but didn’t pursue a sports career.

Paige showed promise in every sport she tried. By her third year of Little League baseball, she was the best catcher in the league, Bob told Twin Cities. “She’s definitely gifted,” Bob said. Bueckers would likely have succeeded in any sport she chose, but she went for basketball.  

“Basketball just stood out to me,” Paige told the publication. “Obviously, I was just the best at it when I was younger, but I had the most love for it, the most passion for it. When I’m not playing it, I’m always watching it and trying to get better.”

Nothing and no one could convince Paige to leave the court, not even the promise of ice cream from the track coach. Bob would have liked to see Paige keep playing other sports for a while longer, but her mind was made up: basketball or bust.

Following her commitment to basketball, Paige either had a ball in her hands or a screen in front of her, watching a basketball game. “I just wanted to be super good at it because I loved it so much and that’s just what I did all the time was play basketball,” Paige told MPR News.

Paige would spend hours dribbling in the community garage or shooting at a nearby park. She would drag Bob to the gym, even when he wasn’t walling. Bob told The Athletic:

“She literally puts in a ton of time in the gym, working by herself, watching film, watching other players to see what she can incorporate into her game and just the general progression of each year adding something you might not be so good at.”

Paige’s work ethic, combined with her natural talent and confidence, made her a formidable player from the very beginning. Her father coached her until seventh grade before handing her over to more experienced coaches. 

By then, Paige was playing with high school players, and a year later, she was on varsity. “She is blessed with not only talent, but a mind for the game, confidence and athleticism,” Bob told MPR News. “She got a lethal combo, that’s for sure.”

Bob is no longer Paige’s coach, but he occasionally offers playing advice, though he’s uncertain whether Paige listens to him. Bob told Twin Cities:

“She listens to criticism — probably not necessarily from her dad, because I’m her dad — but she knows she needs to improve on certain things, and that hunger to be the best is what continues to grow her game.”

Every parent hopes that their kid will become successful. However, Bob doesn’t hope – he’s near-certain that Paige will become a special player. 

Bob first witnessed the extent of Paige’s otherworldly talents when she produced game-saving heroics during a fifth-grade game. Paige was in third grade but playing in the fifth-grade team. He told Star Tribune:

“There were 8 seconds left and we were down by five. We’d only made, like, one or two three-pointers all year, but Paige drains a three. Then she steals the inbounds pass and hits a floater to send the game to overtime. We ended up losing, but when I see my buddies, we still talk about that.”

If Paige ended her career today, she would go down as one of the best young talents to play basketball. However, she isn’t stopping now: she plans to play in the WNBA, where her father opines that she’ll prove to be an outstanding player. 

Bob told Twin Cities that Paige’s goals ‘are to do the unthinkable.’ “In the back of her head, she knows what her goals are,” Bob said. “It’s to do something special.”

The exceptional players score the most points, but Paige is interested in team glory rather than individual glory. At times, she opts to pass, even when she can score. Paige wants her teammates to enjoy playing with her and fans to relish watching her.

“She’s always played with a little flair,” Bob told StarTribune. “She knows it’s entertainment, and she wants people to enjoy watching her.”

Amy Dettbarn participated in track and field, cross country, and basketball during her high school days. Dettbarn told The Brainerd Dispatch that her main sports were track and cross country, and she played basketball to stay in shape.

Paige and Amy maintained a strong bond even after she moved to Montana. Bueckers’ grandparents, JoAnn and Steve Dettbarn, often showed up to support Paige during her games. 

JoAnn, Steve, Amy, and Paige have teamed up to give back to society through her Buckets with Bueckers clinic. The clinics aim to help kids from grades 2-9 to develop interests in basketball and sports. 

The clinics are free, but the organizers encourage participants to donate to local charities. Bueckers’ mom and grandparents help cover the clinic’s costs, including purchasing T-shirts and water bottles for participants who pre-register. 

Paige shares her skills and drills with participants and answers questions about her basketball journey. She also emphasizes the value of achieving good grades while pursuing sports. 

Bueckers told The Brainerd Dispatch that she drew the idea to give back from NBA legend LeBron James. She explained:

“I’ve always liked his game. like LeBron not only because of the recognition and what he has done on the court, but everything else he does to give back and for the community. It means a lot that you can use your skills to impact the world, not only for younger kids, but also for women’s sports in general.”

Bob and Paige’s younger brother, Drew, are regularly courtside supporting Paige. Bueckers said that he wouldn’t pressure his son to pursue anything he doesn’t want. 

“All I’ll say is I hope he finds something he loves and is passionate about because I know Paige has,” Bob told Twin Cities. “If you can have a child, as a parent, who is completely dedicated and passionate about something, that’s what makes you smile, because you know they’re happy.”

Drew’s African American ethnicity inspired Paige to advocate for equality. During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in mid-2020, Paige posted photos and videos of his younger sibling and asked: “At what point do they stop looking at my little brother as a cute little boy and instead as a threat to society?”

Paige pledged to work towards promoting racial equality. She added: “I want you to grow up in [a] world that accepts you for who you are. I am committed to help making a change for the better. It’s time to step up and act in unity because WE ARE THE CHANGE.”