Danger Zone

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Most people have had the misfortune of having a major injury sometime in their lives. That was the case for Utah volleyball player Connie Dangerfield, who tore her rotator cuff in a tournament last spring.

For many athletes, this type of injury would have ended a career, but for Dangerfield, her dedication to the game conquered all her hurdles.

“It was pretty difficult because, right when I started rehabilitating my shoulder, the season was starting up,” Dangerfield said. “It was pretty tough watching all of my teammates practicing and playing without me. I mean, I can’t stand sitting out for a week, let alone four months.”

But the junior libero pushed through it all–the surgery and a rigorous four month rehabilitation just a steppingstone on her road back to volleyball. Dangerfield credits her quick recovery to a number of things, but mostly to her teammates.

“The team has been so nice throughout the whole thing,” she said. “They kept telling me to keep working and that they needed me back, and those kind of teammates are all I could ask for.”

The motivation from her fellow Utes, combined with her own desire to play the game, drove Dangerfield through her rehab so that the junior now says her shoulder feels better than ever.

“I feel like I’m in better shape now than ever before,” Dangerfield said. “My shoulder is feeling a lot stronger because of that extra year of strength and conditioning, and I’m actually feeling better than in 2004.”

Dangerfield made quite a name for herself in the Mountain West Conference during the 2004 season, leading the league in digs with 4.24 per game to earn MWC Libero of the Year accolades.

After a somewhat slow start this season, Dangerfield is quickly returning to 2004 form, diving her way to 4.22 digs per game and a place among Mountain West elite. The junior currently ranks fifth in the conference in the category.

“It took her the first five or six matches of this season to really get her confidence back, but she’s playing really good volleyball for us right now,” U head coach Beth Launiere said. “One of the things Connie brings is passion. She takes tremendous pride in her role on the back and she knows it’s an emotional boost for us when she gets a big dig.”

Dangerfield’s emotional play has not only gotten her recognition in the conference, but also on the national level as she and teammate Airial Salvo were featured in an ESPN article on Utah volleyball last week.

“It was kind of surreal for me because I never thought volleyball ever got a spread in ESPN,” Dangerfield said. “The guy was really complimentary toward Utah volleyball, and it was pretty nice to get compliments from somebody outside of Utah. It’s also nice to hear Beth get credit because she has been building this program for a long time.”

Always quick to give credit to others, Dangerfield herself has proven to be a valuable asset to the Utes this year.

“Connie is one of our captains and really works hard at everything she does,” Launiere said. “She works hard at serving. She works hard at passing. She works hard in school and community service, and that carries over to volleyball. Her work ethic is infectious and I think that she goes a long ways toward our winning matches.”

Lennie Mahler

Ute junior libero Connie Dangerfield reaches for a dig. Dangerfield was featured along with teammate Airial Salvo.