MISSOULA — High school sports fans have seen Missoula Hellgate's Connor Dick star on both the gridiron, and the basketball court, over the last two seasons.
But early in high school, the now senior, was dealt adversity.
"So, after my freshman season in the summer, I was playing (AAU) Select Basketball, and it was that COVID summer, so were in Salt Lake City and there's no one there, you're playing in a closed gym, and second game down there I broke my tibia and tore my meniscus," Dick explained. "So that was a 12-month, 13-month recovery, so I was out my entire sophomore year of all sports."
It was a debilitating, and grueling injury to suffer at such a young age.
"It was super dampening," Dick said. "The first month I was just so upset. There's a lot of buildup to my sophomore year and I was really excited, but then that kind of sidelined me and even like walking, I couldn't do for eight weeks, so I had to find other things that I enjoyed while I had to wait and sit on the sideline, but it ended up giving me a coach's perspective. I was able to coach with the Hays' and stuff and so it's sucks that it happened but I think I learned a lot from it."
Since recovering from that injury, Dick was thrown into a starting quarterback spot for the Knights his junior year, and hasn't looked back.
But, the nerves, were definitely there.
"That was about as nervous as I've ever been before a game, but I think, I hadn't played in almost two years, and I had to go out there in that first game and I think I kind of just broke free a little bit and got comfortable as the season went on," he recalled.
He guided the Knights as an all-state performer in football for two seasons, but basketball is where he's starred.
This year, Dick has been one of the state's top players as Hellgate sits atop the Western AA standings at 13-3 overall and 10-2 in league play. They are also ranked No. 3 in the latest MontanaSports.com rankings.
"I love it. Every game we're lucky to have the opportunity to play," Dick said about getting back from injury. "Even with the COVID thing, it reminds me of the seniors my freshman year who didn't even get to finish off their state tournament, so I think we feel lucky and fortunate to have the opportunity to come play every day."
As a senior, Dick has showcased his ability to play-make for others, or take over and score to put games away.
His growth in sports has a number college teams interested in him for football and basketball, but he's waiting until after the season to make a decision as he wraps up his senior year. Among his offers, Dick said College of Idaho and Montana Tech have offered him for basketball while Montana State has offered him a walk-on spot for football.
"I think I've had a lot of setbacks my high school career like the injury, and many other things, and I think it only adds more to it that I'm here now," Dick said. "I've overcome all of those things and I have a great opportunity in front of me."
The Knights will wrap up regular season play this week, and will then prep for the Western AA Divisional in Kalispell next weekend, as Dick and the rest of Hellgate aim to make another deep run for a program used to playoff success.
"I think this year so far it's been a good season, but I think back to last year and I think we were in the same spot last year, and looking back on it we don't think it was a very good season because we didn't finish the way we wanted to," Dick said. " So I think with this year what everyone is aware of is we haven't really accomplished anything yet. And so we have to play our cards right and play our best basketball in two, three weeks."