Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and Stanford University running back Christian McCaffrey have been selected as the Professional and Amateur Athletes of the Year respectively for the 2015 calendar year. Both will be honored as part of the 52nd annual Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Induction & Awards Banquet on Tuesday, April 19, at the Denver Marriott City Center.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Selection Committee of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame also picked Colorado collegiate standouts Wesley Berg of the University of Denver (men’s lacrosse) and Adrianna Culbert of Colorado State University (volleyball), along with high school honorees Paul Roberts of Lyons HS (boys cross country) and Mallory Pugh of Mountain Vista HS (girls soccer) as athletes of the year. Nikia Davenport from Denver (powerlifting) with Special Olympics Colorado is the recipient of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s 2015 Athlete with Disabilities Award.
Following the 2015 season, Arenado became the second Rockies player to win three consecutive Gold Gloves. The other was outfielder Larry Walker, who collected three straight from 1997-1999. Offensively, he hit .287 with a career-high 42 home runs, tied with Washington’s Bryce Harper for the National League lead. Arenado led the majors with 130 RBIs, 89 extra-base hits and 354 total bases and his 89 extra-base hits were the most by a third baseman in major-league history.
In his sophomore campaign, the runner-up for the 2015 Heisman Trophy, McCaffrey holds the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season with 3,864 eclipsing the previous NCAA record held by Oklahoma State Running Back Barry Sanders’ (3,250 all-purpose yards). He ranked second in the nation with 2,019 rushing yards, becoming the first Stanford player to rush for 2,000 in a season. A consensus All-American, McCaffrey became the first player in Rose Bowl history to rush for 100 yards (172) and have 100 yards receiving (109) and he had a Rose Bowl record 368 yards of total offense, breaking the record previously held by Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis set in 2012.
Berg helped the University of Denver win their first collegiate NCAA National Lacrosse Championship in 2015. He scored a combined eight goals in monster wins over Notre Dame and Maryland during that fateful weekend in May. It was his overtime goal that pushed the Pioneers past the top-seeded Fighting Irish in the semi-finals, and he added five scores in the title game against the Maryland Terrapins, earning tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Berg ended his career at DU with a school record 58 goals.
The Mountain West player-of-the-year, Culbert led the Rams to a 26-4 record in 2015, 20 consecutive match wins, the school’s seventh-straight conference title and a 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. A three-time all-region player, Culbert had eight triple-doubles and an incredibly rare quadruple-double (kills, blocks, assists and digs) – the first in NCAA Division I play in five years. Ram coach Tom Hilbert called her one of the three best all-around players he has coached.
Roberts won his fourth consecutive Class 2A cross country state title last fall in leading Lyons High School to their fourth team title in a row. It is the first time in state history that the boys champions has won four individual titles. His time of 15 minutes, 33.7 seconds led all classifications. Roberts also finished second in the Footlocker Midwest Regional to qualify for the National Championships (Dec. 12). At state track last spring, he finished first both in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters (4th in the 800).
Pugh scored 24 goals and tallied 12 assists in 10 games, helping lead the Mountain Vista Golden Eagles to a 16-3 record and an appearance in the 5A state semifinals. The 5-foot-4 junior is also a member of the U.S. Under-20 women’s national team, was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s 2014 Youth National Player of the Year and is rated as TopDrawerSoccer.com’s No. 1 recruit for the Class of 2016. She captained the U-20’s to the CONCACAF U-20’s Women’s Championship title in Honduras where she earned the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards. Pugh was named the Gatorade Colorado girls soccer player of the year as well as the Gatorade national girls soccer player of the year last season.
A 1993 graduate of Adams City High School, Davenport has been competing in Special Olympics since he was 14 years old. Nikia has participated in six different sports over the years, but powerlifting is his absolute favorite. He has competed at the USA Games as a Powerlifter in 2010 and took home medals in three different events – including one gold medal. Nikia competed at World Games in 1999 so this will be his second World Games appearance. He was one of four athletes chosen from Colorado to compete for USA at the 2015 Special Olympics Summer World Games.
Davenport is also a devoted volunteer and participates in the Tip-A-Cop, the annual Mardi Gras and many other Special Olympics of Colorado fundraisers. One of his favorite memories of the Special Olympics was hearing Eunice Kennedy Shriver speak at the 1999 World Games.
Davenport and the 2015 Athletes of the Year will be honored at the banquet along with the newest Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inductees: Vinny Castilla, Milan Hejduk, Jim Danley, Ralph Simpson, Rhonda Blanford-Green and Jim Toupal. The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was selected this past October.
Tickets are $200 each and sponsor tables start at $2,500. For additional ticket and table information, please contact the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (www.coloradosports.org / 720-258-3535). The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame & Museum is located at Gate 1 on the west side of Sports Authority Field at Mile High (1701 Bryant Street) in Denver.
Since its inception in 1964, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 240 individuals prior to last October’s Hall of Fame selection meeting for the Class of 2016. The first class of inductees in 1965 featured Earl “Dutch” Clark, Jack Dempsey and former Supreme Court justice Byron “Whizzer” White. Chauncey Billups, John Dikeou, John Gagliardi, Roy Halladay, Becky Hammon and Warren Mitchell were inducted into the 2015 Class of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame this past April.