Local volleyball star returns to Moab to share her skills

Imparting knowledge can be a great experience for both the teacher and the learner. When it comes to volleyball, it would be difficult to find someone from Moab better suited to share her skills than Shelby Dalton. After her time starring on the Grand County High School volleyball, basketball and softball teams, Dalton continued pursuing her favorite of the three sports by playing volleyball for the University of Utah. Since playing four years as a Ute, Dalton has returned to Moab each summer to host a camp and teach a new crop of GCHS girls what she knows.

Surprisingly for someone who came from a rural high school and never played on a club team, Dalton was able to leave a major mark on her college program. She earned a position as a starter about halfway through her freshman year, a spot she held for the rest of her time as a college player. During her senior year, Dalton became the first University of Utah player to be included on the All-Pac-12 first-team. She was honored on the Pac-12 All-Academic first-team as well. Dalton’s last season included a trip to China with Team USA’s college national team.

Once she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Consumer and Community Studies, Dalton decided to continue her volleyball career in Europe. Her college coach connected her with an agency that puts players in contact with teams across Europe. Dalton hadn’t planned on going overseas, but after speaking with her coach, she said, “I was like, ‘oh sure, why not, I’ll just keep playing, sounds fun’.”

The athleticism that made Dalton an attractive candidate to the University of Utah likely helped draw contracts from European teams. “Fall of 2015, I went to Finland and played till April of 2016,” said Dalton. She also played for a second season on the other side of the continent. “I played in Greece this last year from September to April,” she said. Dalton described the leagues as “semi-pro because they don’t have college [volleyball].” Without eligibility rules like in the U.S., European leagues have players ranging in age from 18 to over 30. “Each country has their own league,” explained Dalton, “then you play in the European Cup where you play other countries … so it’s like a big, giant tournament with all of Europe.” Though the teams only had about three Americans, Dalton’s teammates all spoke English and made the transition relatively easy.

Dalton enjoyed her time playing in Europe, but her recent season in Greece was her last. Next, Dalton’s plans will bring her to Salt Lake City. “I’m going to nursing school,” she said. While Dalton may have finished her time as a competitive player, she won’t be leaving volleyball behind for good. She’s interested in coaching, or at least continuing to host camps for young players. “They look like they’re having fun,” said Dalton with a smile. “I like camps like this and I do a camp in Gunnison every year too.”

Her latest camp, during the last week of June, was the third time Dalton has hosted a summer camp in Moab. The first day was for the younger age group of girls between third and sixth grade. About 15 girls participated in the games. The more intensive camp for girls in middle school and high school lasted three days. Dalton did drills with and taught vital skills to a group of 28 players. Her sister, Carly Dalton, who also played volleyball at GCHS and now runs track at Southern Utah University, helped facilitate the camp.

To close out the camp, Dalton brought her students into a huddle. When Dalton asked, “Did you have fun?” she was met with a resounding chorus of yeses. They ended with an enthusiastic ‘Red Devil Pride’ cheer, which echoed the same shout Dalton would’ve given during her time at GCHS. Though the big city to the north took Dalton out of Moab, her passion for Red Devil volleyball was on full display at her annual camp.

ByBy Nathaniel Smith

The Times-Independent