Athlete of the year – Taylor Proctor, UCCS soccer goalkeeper
Taylor Proctor had not touched a soccer ball in seven years, but still decided to test her injured knee as a favor to University of Colorado-Colorado Springs coach Sian Hudson.
A prime reason Proctor said yes:
She didn’t think she would play. She believed she would spend the 2017 season watching the Mountain Lions as a reserve goalie.
Talk about underestimating yourself . . .
Proctor’s superlative work as goaltender lifted the Mountain Lions to a 17-5-1 record and the NCAA Division II national semis. She recorded 10 shutouts.
Sit the bench?
“I honestly didn’t think I would be the top goalkeeper,” Proctor said. “I was not guessing I would get that at all. That shocked the heck out of me.”
Others were not so shocked. Proctor has long been about excelling, not sitting.
She was a basketball star at Sand Creek High and later at the University of San Francisco, where she was twice named all-West Coast Conference and averaged 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists as senior. She played one season in Sweden. A fractured knee cap and a third surgery on her knee ended her basketball career.
But Hudson persuaded her to use a final year of eligibility for soccer.
Proctor is glad she said yes to what seemed at the time an outrageous request.
“It kind of put a happiness back in me,” she said.
Performance of the year – Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman vs. Navy
In one of the finest performances in Air Force history, and we’re talking any sport, quarterback Arion Worthman collected 161 yards rushing, 257 yards passing and 24 yards receiving (!) while leading the Falcons offense to 45 points against archrival Navy.
One problem, and it was a big one:
Navy scored 48, which meant Worthman’s inspiring performance was in vain. If the Midshipmen had not driven 75 yards to a touchdown in 98 seconds, Worthman would have been carried off the field by his teammates.
Instead, his performance – magnificent as it was – serves as a symbol for a depressing, confusing season.
Air Force fell behind Navy 28-7 and 38-17. Still, Worthman kept shouting in the huddle that victory was not only possible but probable.
His was a courageous, dazzling, uplifting but ultimately futile performance.
It’s a performance that will require repeats in 2018.
For one of the few times in the past 30 years, Air Force’s football team ranks third in the three-team service academy rivalry.
For decades, Army has been an easy win for the Falcons. Those days are gone. Army’s defense held Navy and Air Force to a total of 13 points. Meanwhile, Navy and Army marched to 69 points against the Falcons.
The Falcons allowed 28 or more points 10 times in 2017. Most of the same defenders will be starting in 2018.
That means Worthman and his offensive brethren will need to collect a massive number of points next season. Worthman will be asked to lead the return to Air Force’s service-academy dominance.
On a sad day at Navy, Worthman proved he’s ready for the task.