When Shelby Dejana arrived at Wilton High School last year, soccer was her primary focus. She played on an academy team and thus was not eligible to compete for the Warriors.
Then Dejana tried out for the school track team, found instant success as a hurdler and now soccer is No. 2 on her list. Dejana left the academy and played soccer for Wilton in the fall. And this indoor season she won the Class L title in the 55 hurdles and finished second in the FCIAC and State Open meets.
Dejana would have had a sweep if not for another sophomore, Ludlowe’s Tess Stapleton, who went on to win the New England title.
I caught up with Dejana this week to discuss her sports transition in this first edition of Five Questions.
TRR: What led you to go out for the track team?
SD: I’ve always loved to run, Even if it is sprints at practice. Other people were dreading them but sprints were something I didn’t mind. I was thinking of trying track for a year before I reached out to my club coach and she said you should come out and see what you can do. And from there it really took off because my (track) coach is really motivating. He made me love it and here we are today.
TRR: Hurdles is not an event people attempt early on. What led you to it?
SD: My coach actually originally wanted me to try high jump. Then we started doing drills and he said let me see you do this, let me see you do this. I did a few things and he said I’m going to have you try hurdles in practice. I tried it the next practice and I loved it.
TRR: Are you surprised you’ve had this much success so soon?
SD: Yes, honestly. This year was very surprising to me because I’ve always prioritized soccer. Even when I was in season for track I was still playing club soccer. Club soccer had to be my priority so I was just surprised with such little training, other than high school practice, I had so much success.”
TRR: I know you’ve had a friendly rivalry with Tess. Is it a little frustrating if not for her you would have been the top hurdler in the state?
SD: To a certain extent yes, but Tess gives me something to work at. She challenges me. It is really not that frustrating. It would have been nice obviously to have won more things but Tess motivated me to do better because she’s always ahead.
TRR: What is the most interesting thing about you people don’t know?
SD: (Long pause). I’m trying to think. I have seven specific songs I have to listen to before every single soccer game and track meet or else I feel I completely mess up.
(Five Questions will be a recurring series to get to better know athletes and coaches.)