This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sandy • Going into his senior season at Jordan High School, everything seemed to be going Colton Shaver's way.
The Beetdiggers were the defending state football champions. And the baseball team went into the season with its best chance of winning a title since 2007. A linebacker, catcher, pitcher and natural leader, Shaver appeared poised to enjoy a wonderful senior year.
But life can take some strange turns. And that's what happened to Shaver, The Tribune's prep baseball Most Valuable Player for 2014, during fall football practice.
On that fateful day, Shaver noticed his right arm and bicep suddenly swelled to three times the size of the left arm, and also went numb.
He went to the team trainer, who told him he needed to go to an emergency room. Though rare for an 18-year-old, the trainer said the linebacker showed all the signs of having a blood clot.
Shaver drove himself to the Riverton hospital. He was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening two-centimeter-long blood clot in the main vein leading to the heart. Doctors transported him by ambulance to the hospital, where doctors quickly went to work.
They expanded the vein with a balloon to make more room for blood to flow and then sucked out the clot. He waited a few weeks and then had to have his first rib cut out to prevent future problems.
For most kids, football would have been out of the question and baseball just a far-off hope.
But Shaver came back for the Beetdiggers' second region football game against Alta. And there was no question he would play baseball, where he hit .490 with 12 home runs as a catcher and used a fastball that can hit speeds close to 90 to finish the season 6-1. Jordan won only its second state baseball title in its long history, beating Pleasant Grove 4-3 in the deciding game to finish the season 25-5.
An enthusiastic athlete, Shaver learned some things during a year that started out so badly and ended so well.
"It made me appreciate life more," he said. "I am grateful for what I am able to do and who I have around me for my support."
His attitude after Jordan lost the first game to Pleasant Grove was revealing.
"I wasn't nervous," he said. "I was more excited. We were just in the moment. It helped me with my nerves to be more excited. We lost that first game and I looked at the dugout. Our kids were having a great time enjoying baseball and enjoying the moment. I knew right then we would play our game. Every time we have fun, everyone loves playing the game, we play our best."
Part of the reason for the cohesiveness was that a group of players Shaver refers to as "The Fab Five" had dreamed of this day. Shaver, Christian Bailey, Cale Hathaway, Mason Krueger and Morgan Gomez grew up together. They had been playing baseball since they were 8 years old, sometimes together and sometimes as opponents. But they all decided to attend Jordan to pursue a championship.
Beetdiggers coach Chad Fife said he didn't know if Shaver would be able to play after the blood clot scare. He was obviously elated his star player, who will attend BYU next year, was able to play.
"He's a great leader and, off the field, an even better kid," said Fife. "He will take a young kid under his wing and teach him how to hit, catch or throw. He was a better catcher, but a pretty darned good pitcher. He commanded the game with great leadership."
Shaver said he prefers catching to pitching, but will do whatever it takes to win. And, since high school baseball teams usually play a three-game series against the same team, he said his catching actually helped him as a pitcher.
"You are able to see the entire field [as a catcher]," said Shaver, who had a 3.5 grade point average. "You get to see a play develop. There is the mental side of it. You see a batter step in the box, look at him and find his weaknesses. You get to study every situation possible. If I am a catcher, I can see how batters think and how they react to pitchers."
After enjoying a senior trip on a cruise ship to Mexico, Shaver plans to spend the summer playing on the Utah Marshalls club baseball team, traveling to a number of tournaments. He hopes to major in aviation at BYU and eventually become a pilot.
Reflecting on his high school career, Shaver said he learned some good life lessons.
"I learned that hard work will pay off if you trust and believe in it," he said. "As a team, to be successful, you have to work together. We won two state championships, one in football and one in baseball. Both years that I won state, our team bonded. It was like one family. It is cool to see everyone working together to accomplish great things."
In Shaver's case, his brush with the blood clot seemed to help him appreciate sports and teammates that much more.