This Thanksgiving, Excelle Sports is giving thanks by sharing the stories from the past year that we’re most grateful for the opportunity to have covered, written and shared with the sports community at large. Here, our editors explain which story meant the most to them and why. Click on each link to read the story in full.
Former pro women’s ice hockey player Cherie Hendrickson ran the New York City Marathon in November for her teammate Denna Laing, who suffered a spinal injury last winter while playing with the Boston Pride. Their story reminded me of the deep bond that can exist between teammates and the fact that we are all out here battling for each other.
When I watched pro softball player A.J. Andrews receive the first-ever softball Gold Glove Award, I literally got to see with my eyes the progress women have made in the bat-and-ball game. Although there is still a long way to go in terms of how men and women are perceived on the playing field, the recognition by Rawlings of A.J.’s tremendous defensive feats is a step in the right direction toward equality. The opportunity to tell that story is something I’ll always remember.
I have known swimming coach Teri McKeever for over half my life and have had the honor to travel with her on numerous international trips while representing Team USA, including to the Olympic Games in Beijing. I have always respected her as a coach and a mentor but more so as a pioneer for women in the sport’s world as she was the first-ever female Olympic head coach in swimming. Her coaching method is unique to her vision of swimming and I have always admired her ability to follow her own path. Writing the story also allowed me to understand her on another personal level and for that I am grateful.
I’m most thankful for the chance to speak with college lacrosse player Alie Jimerson and her mother about the beautiful struggle that the game has posed for them as Native Americans. After hearing them speak honestly about both the opportunities and the dangers that lacrosse has provided for young women, I knew it was a delicate story to tell. But I’m thankful they opened up to me and allowed me the chance to tell the story that so few know despite the rapid growth of lacrosse and young women.
How often do you get the chance to see an Olympian rise to fame from the ground up? I’m so proud of my good friend and college track and field teammate Kate Grace, who went from being unsure about whether to turn running into her career to being the 8th fastest 800-meter runner in the world. For this article, I had the opportunity to watch Grace, now a U.S. Olympian, race at the New York Armory before Rio. She had her eyes set on the Olympics—I could see how confident she’d grown since college. I’m thankful that I was able to watch her reach her dreams at the Olympics and surpass everyone else’s expectations. She reminds me that many of us are only one decision away from reaching our potential.