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Abilene’s Claira Dannefer – Athlete Spotlight Presented By Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad Association

Claira Dannefer is a junior at Abilene High School and very successful three-sport athlete in basketball, volleyball, and track. Dannefer was first team all league and all-state honorable mention last season in basketball, first team all league in volleyball, and was a state medalist in the long jump and 4x100m relay in track and field. In addition to her achievements in team competitions Dannefer is an accomplished powerlifter and holds the Abilene girls all-time record for hang clean with a lift of 175 lbs.

Dannefer loves to compete and is always working her hardest to improve both as an athlete and as a person. Dannefer fell in love with basketball at an early age and began playing in elementary school with some friends in a recreational league and then a local travel team. This past summer her travel team, Wheat State Elite, made it to the gold bracket in the Run for Roses Tournament and brought home the championship.

“My favorite part of the game is the first-hand competitiveness,” Dannefer said. “Unlike other sports I play, basketball has a fast pace and physicality that can’t be matched.”

Dannefer worked hard this offseason to add even more layers to her already impressive game. Dannefer said powerlifting and her participation on the track team have been key to her success and growth on the court and that she appreciates putting in the time and work in the offseason so that she’s ready for the high school season.

This season Dannefer’s strength training paid off when crashing the glass and finishing strong around the basket. Dannefer said her next goal as she continues to grow and improve is to get better at reading defenses and improving her reaction time and instincts. She has been thankful for the opportunity to play with Abilene’s new Head Coach Shawn Herrman and is learning a lot from him.

“Since I started working with him last year he has taught me so much about the game. His passion for the game is contagious and he pushes me to get better each and every day,” Dannefer said. “One of my favorite moments from this year was helping give Coach Herrman his first win as head coach against our rivals, Chapman, at home.”

One thing that Herrman has emphasized with his players is focusing on the intangibles, a piece of advice that Dannefer took to heart.

“No one has perfect games and there are times when you will face adversity. But in those times, you can always dive on the floor for a loose ball, box out hard to get rebounds, and make plays on defense,” Dannefer said. “These actions reveal a true competitor, which is what I strive to be, even on off days.”

Outside of athletics Dannefer is thankful for the love and support she receives from her friends and family. She is active in the Kansas Association of Youth, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Business Leaders of America, StuCo, Drum Major, Lone Ranger Leadership Group, National Honor Society, and is very active with her local church and is on the youth group student leadership team. After high school Dannefer wants to continue her education and playing career at the next level.

“I would love to play basketball in college. I would like to pursue a degree in exercise science and eventually become a physical therapist or another career within the sports medicine field,” Dannefer said. “Most importantly, my parents encouraged me to never forget who I am playing for. God’s given me the ability to play and I owe all of my successes to Him.”

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