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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Class Clown and Class Act


Chris Ayers

Last season, Shelby Dalton was named Utah volleyball’s first All-American in five years. She is described by he coaches as a very serious player who is well respected in the locker room and on the court by her fellow teammates.

One thing you might not know about Dalton is that she is recognized by her teammates as the team prankster.

Last season, Dalton decided to go buy a box of chocolates for each of her coaches and put the boxes out for them at practice. Each box had the respective coaches’ names on it, and it seemed like a nice gesture. However, there was a twist. Dalton had taken second year assistant coach JJ Riley’s chocolates out of the box and replaced them with a tarantula.

Dalton says that head coach Beth Launiere ate her chocolates right away, along with the rest of her staff, with the exception of Riley. He said he was going to take the chocolates home to his wife.

However, thanks to some egging on from Dalton and the rest of the Utes, Riley caved in and decided to open up the box.

“There was a big tarantula sitting in there, I screamed like a little girl and threw it up in the air,” Riley said. “I guess Shelby is known for pulling pranks, and I didn’t know that back then.”

Dalton, a Moab native, got the spider from her father George who drives a UPS truck from Moab to Monticello and likes to pick up tarantulas if he sees one.

“It started with my brother; he used to play tricks on people in college all the time [with the tarantulas)],” Dalton said. “My dad asked me if I wanted one so I said ‘Sure. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but I’ll take it.’”

Athletes from small towns often are not discovered by Division-I athletic programs. Dalton was no exception as she was only recruited by the U.

“She was just raw, she didn’t play club volleyball, nobody saw her, and people didn’t know who she was,” Launiere said. “She came to our camp and that was the only reason we knew about her, we just saw her and took a chance on her.”

The transition to Division-I volleyball was tough because Dalton was used to being the best player on the court. That wasn’t the case when she arrived on the hill.

“My freshman year was really hard,” Dalton said. “I felt out of place, I didn’t realize every girl played club volleyball. I didn’t even know that club volleyball really existed.”

With her unrivaled work ethic, Dalton became an AVCA All-American honorable mention in her junior year. She was only the eighth All-American in the Utes’ history.

“I was super surprised last year,” Dalton said. “Everyone in the Salt Lake community tells me I’m good. It’s nice to be recognized outside of Utah and the University of Utah. It’s an honor that people see me as a really good player.”

Launiere is confident that Dalton can get another All-American honor in 2014, but says it depends on the success of the team.

“She’s so respected by this conference and region for her ability to change what teams do with her blocking,” Launiere said. “She’s become a go-to-player offensively as well.”

One of the key factors in Dalton’s development has been going to China on All-Star squads. In the summer of 2012, Dalton was invited to tryout for the U.S. Women’s National A2 team with 250 of the top players in the U.S. At the end of the tryouts only 12 players got a ticket to China, and Dalton was one of them.

Last season, Dalton went on her second trip to China, but as a Pac-12 All-Star this time.

Launiere was an assistant coach on the Pac-12 All-Stars team and said that by the end of the trip, everybody knew who she was.

“She’s improved tremendously. She’s one of those kids that works hard, puts her head down and is very serious about working hard and focusing on volleyball,” Riley said. “She’s got a playful side to her which I think has been kind of fun to see over the years.”

As serious as she is on the court, just remember that if you get a box of chocolates from Shelby Dalton, open it at your own risk.

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