During the final eight weeks of the spring semester, CisternYard Sports will be releasing a feature story each week on a student athlete at the College of Charleston that our sports staff thinks you should know. This week, we highlight senior standout Darcy Dorton from the volleyball team.
Many college athletes all have a unique journey that sets them apart from the crowd. College of Charleston volleyball star Darcy Dorton is no exception.
Dorton began playing club volleyball at age six, marking this as her 17th year on the court, and her excellence was noticed early on.
“Volleyball is a big sport where I’m from. I was lucky to have been exposed to the sport at a young age and I was able to play for nationally recognized coaches during my prep years. For someone with a personality like mine, having that kind of training at your disposal made it so I just wanted to play all the time and I was a gym rat. I’ve pretty much lived volleyball for as long as I can remember but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Dorton said.
Dorton started her collegiate career over 800 miles away at Penn State University, much closer to her Muncie, Ind. hometown and well-regarded nationwide for its Big Ten Conference athletics.
After winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year and helping the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season and an NCAA Championship in the fall, spring conditioning rolled around and the unthinkable happened: Dorton tore her ACL going up for a routine hitting drill.
Dorton took off the next year to redshirt and get her health back in order. When she regained her strength and became healthy again, there was not a spot as an outside hitter on the Penn State team.
The decision to leave Penn State was hard for Dorton, but it has worked out pretty well for her, as the College of Charleston and head coach Jason Kepner came calling.
Dorton has had a stellar career as an outside hitter on the Charleston team over the past two years. Aside from playing traditional volleyball in the fall, she has also experienced success on the emerging sand volleyball squad.
Between the success she has experienced, her great teammates, and the amazing places the sport has taken her, she could not imagine a college experience without volleyball.
“My college experience would have been entirely different without volleyball. For starters, I would have never even heard of CofC had it not been through volleyball. While being a student athlete comes with a unique set of obstacles, I would never, ever have it any other way. Getting to play volleyball at the college level is something that few get to do and I have been very lucky to have this opportunity. Volleyball has given me the opportunity to travel around the country, play with some of the craziest, coolest people I’ve ever met, and live in a city that some people refer to as paradise.”
The accomplishments for Dorton while at Charleston are numerous, but she says beating nationally-ranked Miami in the first round of the 2013 NCAA tournament was her most memorable experience.
“It was only the second NCAA win for our program and one that is worth remembering. It was a close match and we were definitely the underdogs going in but we played to our potential that night. It was the type of game that we weren’t expected to win but we weren’t ready to back down. We played like we had nothing to lose and it made for a fun, exciting atmosphere.”
With Charleston venturing into a new conference for her senior season, it proved to be an adjustment for Dorton and her team with further travel and better competition. Dorton, however, acknowledges that switching to conferences was a fun and worthwhile experience.
“The positives of having to travel more this season definitely outweighed the negatives. I’ve always loved getting to travel to new cities and play in new venues and our team really began to thrive as we became more accustomed to the new conference. It was a challenge during the first half of the season because we were scouting a brand new team before every game but it helped us learn to adapt and adjust our game plans more on the fly and improved our versatility as a whole.”
Dorton’s accolades have been numerous throughout her career at the College. She became the first player in CAA history to win preseason Player of the Year and overall conference Player of the Year in 2013, while also named CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Performer. Dorton holds the title of being the only player in Division 1 volleyball history to win conference titles in three difference conferences with her wins in the Big Ten, Southern Conference and CAA.
In 2012, she was named AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, making her the first AVCA All-American in program history. She also was named to the AVCA All-South Region Team and was an All-SoCon First Team selection that same season.
Her team at Charleston has played a huge role, not only when it comes to Dorton’s success, but also her experience in Charleston.
“There’s a lot that I’m going to miss about the College when my times up. The thing that’s on my mind the most is how much I’m going to miss the team. Even through the worst parts of season, 6am workouts, and preseason, we always found ways to make things memorable. My fondest memories are with my team and that’s why I’ll probably miss them the most.”
Despite this being her last season playing for the Cougars and an impending graduation in May, her future looks to be filled with volleyball, with her goal to play professionally overseas.
“I have been playing volleyball for so long and now I hope to use it as my ticket to travel the world. Ideally I would like to start playing in one of the European leagues but there are also leagues in South America and parts of Asia that are options I wouldn’t mind exploring. I want to travel the world as much as possible while I’m young and I am so excited to begin the next chapter in my career.”
After finishing a pro career, Dorton looks further down the road and hopes to coach the sport that has given so much to her.
“After my playing career is over I plan to go to graduate school while ideally taking a position as a graduate assistant coach. Eventually I see myself settling into a coaching career down the road. Because volleyball has been such a large part of my life, I can’t really see myself giving it up anytime soon.”
Dorton has certainly had an illustrious career that will forever be remembered in College of Charleston volleyball history. While her collegiate career may be ending, don’t be surprised to hear from Dorton again, whether it is as a pro player or perhaps coaching a Division 1 school to a volleyball title.
Check back next Friday for the fourth edition in our “Eight for Eight” series on men’s soccer defenseman, Daan Brinkman.