Utes volleyball standouts playing in China this week
It's not just about seeing the Great Wall or the Forbidden City.
For Shelby Dalton, visiting China will be as much about what she's wearing as what she's seeing.
"I've grown up watching the USA Volleyball team," the Utes senior said, just ahead of her overseas trip. "Being able to represent the US, wearing those letters, it's amazing. It's what I love to do."
Dalton is one of two Utes in the Far East this week, as she and Chelsey Schofield are both touring China with volleyball teams. Opposite hitter Dalton is bringing her talents to the Team USA Collegiate team while outside hitter Schofield is with the Pac-12 All-Stars.
Both began their international activities in Shanghai on Tuesday. Dalton went last year with the Pac-12 All-Stars, but for Schofield, it's a completely new experience.
"I think it'll be great to meet new people and see some of the sights," she said. "There's a couple familiar faces on the team, so hopefully we'll be doing well."
Both squads are scrimmaging with local Chinese teams, with highlights of the trip including dates with the Junior National team and a professional squad based in the Fujian province.
For the two Utes, it's not just a chance to play for their country - it's about representing the Utes as well.
Utah volleyball is coming off a 21-13 season when they had a 9-11 conference record, their best mark since joining the Pac-12. Dalton was an AVCA All-American honorable mention for the season before shining in a Team USA tryout in February.
Both she and Schofield are looking forward to showing what a pair of Utes can do internationally.
"I think it shows how far the program has come in the last few years," Dalton said. "My grade, I think we've gotten the Utah name out there. Hopefully that continues, because we have some great recruits and young players that can keep it going."
Both Dalton and Schofield have a year left with the Utes, and after that, they aren't sure how much longer they'll play. But if they do choose to continue their careers, they'll likely have to play in another country to be pros.
It's not a certain path for either of them, but it's something to think about as they get some experience being a stranger in a strange land.
"It's something I hope I'm able to do," Schofield said. "It's definitely on my mind."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon