Steamboat Springs Call it tough luck - or, as the always upbeat Lane Shipley calls it, "a blessing" - but the 2007 Steamboat Springs High School graduate's immense talent on the football field has not yet had a chance to blossom in college.
But it's not his fault.
The list of injuries and unfortunate mishaps just kept getting longer.
He tore a ligament in his left knee while skiing in February 2006, tore a ligament in his right knee the following football season - his senior year of high school - and then had shoulder surgery near the end of the 2006-07 school year. But maybe the biggest blow came when Shipley, already inked to play football at Dartmouth, blew out his left knee in the All-State football game last year.
Playing in the final two minutes of a game that brings the top high school football players together for a day, Shipley was chasing down a quarterback from his right defensive end position. He took the right angle, planted his leg, the knee buckled and he was hit from behind by a running back.
The result was a complete tear of the ACL, LCL, meniscus and popliteus tendon.
It meant nine to 11 months of recovery and no chance for Shipley to play or practice for Dartmouth in his freshman year of college.
The setback didn't get Shipley down.
"You can think you've had a lot of injuries, but I never thought, 'Oh, I've been plagued,'" Shipley said Friday, back in Steamboat Springs on Christmas break. "You just have to roll with the flow. The only way to do it is if you're not timid. Fix it and let's go."
When he arrived on Dartmouth's campus, Shipley embraced the prospect of joining the Big Green. He didn't miss a practice, meeting or weight-lifting session. He volunteered to shoot film for the team.
But then, before his first game off crutches, Shipley suffered another setback.
This time it wasn't his knee, but a sharp pain in his stomach.
A physician didn't think it was anything serious. Three doctors at a local hospital couldn't pinpoint the pain. Finally, doctors decided to do exploratory surgery.
Acting with classic Shipley character, the gutsy freshman hadn't let anyone know about the pain because he didn't want anyone to worry. Shipley eventually told his mother, Barb, about the surgery - while he was on a gurney getting an IV. Doctors discovered that Shipley's appendix, normally the size of a pinky finger, had ballooned to the size of an Italian sausage.
The doctor told Shipley it was the largest he had ever seen an appendix swell without bursting.
These days, Shipley is finally getting back to health. Pending a review of his request for a medical redshirt - the Ivy League doesn't allow regular redshirts - Shipley is planning to see plenty of playing time next year.
If so, it will be the first time he's stepped onto a playing field in more than a year and the first time he's been completely healthy in longer than he can remember.
"It's going to be more fun to come back," Shipley said. "It keeps me going. It's going to make that first hit so much more enjoyable. I mean, it's been over a year since I've hit anyone."
Now at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, Shipley said he'll most likely be moved to a defensive tackle position. And during the complex transition from high school to college, Shipley said his time on the sideline helped him in more ways than it hurt.
Mainly, he said, he knows what to expect any time adversity hits.
"You just keep going," Shipley said. "I know what the worst can be. Not playing is the worst. It should be fun seeing what the best can be."