Through it all, Halligan perseveres

Fort Dodge senior learning valuable life lessons both on and off the field

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Shane Halligan makes a play for Fort Dodge during their playoff game at Cedar Rapids Kennedy last fall.

A few months ago, Shane Halligan would’ve laughed at the idea of patience being a virtue.

Now, the Fort Dodge senior is an old hand at keeping a positive — and tolerant — mental outlook in the face of life-altering adversity.

It’s been quite a month for Halligan. The Dodgers’ football and baseball standout had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn hip labrum a little over four weeks ago, which ended the rest of his athletic career.

Now, with the world fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic future for Halligan and his classmates is on hold as well.

“I’ve just put it all to God and let Him take over,” Halligan said about coping with the barrage of disappointing news. “You rely on your faith and your family more than ever. You have to be willing to ask for help, and control what you can control. I came to grips with that (as an athlete), and now we’re all being forced to do the same (as students).

“It’s hard. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. But you can’t spend too much time hung up on the ‘why.’ It’s more about ‘when’ can you fix the flat tire and get back on track.”

Halligan, an academic all-state selection in both sports, was injured during Fort Dodge’s playoff game against Cedar Rapids Kennedy in October. After stripping the ball from the quarterback and recovering the fumble, Halligan was blindsided by a Cougar lineman.

“I got up and was celebrating when I got hit. The play was over,” Halligan said. “I knew I was hurt and I went on crutches for a while after that, but I didn’t realize (the extent of the injury). It’s football. You get banged up sometime.

“When I was told I was looking at arthroscopic surgery and six months of recovery, the news really hit me hard. Dr. (Chris) Nelson (of DMOS Orthopaedic Center) said (the severity) was rare, with (the insertion of) five anchors required. We really had no idea it was that serious.”

Halligan was a first team all-CIML Iowa Conference catcher last summer in his third varsity season behind the plate. He was also an all-district choice as a linebacker on the gridiron in 2019.

“Sports prepare you to deal with adversity and fight through it, but sitting around isn’t typically a part of that equation,” Halligan said. “I’ve just had to learn how to relax and let things take their course. I’ve become stronger in my faith, and developed an appreciation and perspective (for being active) I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Halligan is also in line to be a Class of 2020 valedictorian. He’s carried a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout high school.

“People say they don’t like school. That’s not me,” Halligan said. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until you get into a situation like this. I have fun with it, and it’s hard not being around friends, teachers and people you wouldn’t (cross paths with) otherwise. I’ve seen my older brothers (Tommy and Austin) go to prom and have their graduations — I sure hope we get to experience that, too.

“School really has a positive impact on our lives. For a lot of kids, it’s a safe place to be. I feel for kids who are stuck at home right now and don’t have the (support and structure) school provides.”

Halligan’s light at the end of the tunnel is the career waiting for him on the diamond at Iowa Central.

“I’m really looking forward to being a part of their program like my brother (Austin) was,” Halligan said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can and compete for a spot.”

He’s also hoping that the Dodgers don’t lose their baseball season this summer.

“I’m 150 percent committed to being involved (with the program, despite not being able to play),” Halligan said. “It will be tough watching them (from the dugout), but this is my time to learn how to teach and be a leader from a different point of view. It’s still my school, and they’re still my teammates. I’m not giving that up.”


Vacation destination: touring Europe.

People I would like to have dinner with: Jesus Christ, my grandma, Yadier Molina.

It would surprise people that I: am a homebody.

My sports role model: my brothers.

My everyday role model: mom and dad.

I can’t go a day without: watching a video of baseball.

Nickname: my dad calls me Fred.

Superstition: praying before every athletic event.

Most heated rivalry: Mason City.

Favorite road trip: Johnston for baseball.

What are you listening to right now? Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard.


Team: Boston Red Sox.

Class: Little Dodger.

Movie: Harry Potter Series.

Book: “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins.

Phone app: Twitter.


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