Minneapolis (Dec. 11, 2019) – Tonight, Sports Minneapolis, powered by Meet Minneapolis, honored athletes, coaches and sports icons at the third annual Minnesota Sports Awards, which celebrates the best of Minnesota sports over the past year. Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was named the Coach of the Year; Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier was named Professional Athlete of the Year; and former Minnesota Vikings executive Kevin Warren received the inaugural Trailblazer Award.
In addition, six Minnesota sports legends – John Gagliardi, Willard Ikola, Randall McDaniel, Randy Moss, John Randle and Lindsay Whalen – were inducted into the Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame during a gala awards event at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot.
The awards show will be broadcast on Thursday, Dec. 26, at 7:30 p.m., on FOX Sports North.
Winners of the 2019 Minnesota Sports Awards include:
High School Athletes of the Year (Presented by Mall of America®)
Erika Bute, Alden-Conger High School – A three-sport athlete, Bute was a three-year volleyball captain, a five-year starter as a point guard, and a four-year starter on the diamond, earning three all-conference honors. She was also valedictorian of her graduating class and served as student council president.
David Roddy, Breck School – Roddy excelled in three sports for the Mustangs as a Mr. Football finalist and all-state quarterback, a Mr. Basketball and McDonald Award finalist, and a state discus champion. He was a member of Breck’s students of color mentorship program and attended the National Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
College Athletes of the Year
Amber Fiser, University of Minnesota – Fiser pitched the Golden Gophers to their first appearance in the Women’s College World Series. Appearing in 46 games, she ranked third in the NCAA in wins and fifth in strikeouts and was named a First Team All-American and the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Away from the diamond, Fiser donated her time to Big Brothers Big Sisters and Hope Kids and was honored a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award recipient.
Parker Mackay, University of Minnesota Duluth – Mackay completed his career at Minnesota Duluth as the only Bulldog to serve as a captain for two NCAA Championship teams. He helped UMD to the 2018 and 2019 national titles, earning Most Outstanding Player honors last season. Off the ice, he served as one of UMD’s go-to players whenever there was a community service request. Today, Mackay is in his first season of professional hockey with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
Professional Athlete of the Year (Presented by FOX Sports North)
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx – The WNBA Rookie of the Year, Collier started every game for the Minnesota Lynx, averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.91 steals per game. In the community, Collier was a Dream Team Mentor, where she was paired with a young lady from Big Brothers Big Sisters who was part of the Minnesota Lynx Dream Team.
Coach of the Year
Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins – It was a banner rookie season for the Minnesota Twins manager as he led the club to the AL Central Division crown and a Division Series appearance for the first time since 2010. With Baldelli at the helm, the Twins won 101 games and set the all-time Major League Baseball record for home runs in a season (307). In turn, he was named the American League Manager of the Year.
Minnesota Sports Moment of the Year
Henning High School boys’ basketball wins first state championship – Fifty-three years after its last trip to the state tournament and playing in the memory of a teammate who died in a car accident two years ago, the Henning boys’ basketball team made an improbable, emotional run to capture its first championship (in any sport), defeating North Woods 67-42 in the Class 1A title game.
Courage Award (Presented by TRIA)
Awarded to an athlete or other sports figure who overcame significant challengers on or off the playing field, inspiring others with their courage, perseverance and determination.
Gabriele Grunewald – Once one of the nation’s best middle-distance runners, Grunewald inspired legions of fans with her courageous, public fight against a rare form of cancer to which she succumbed on June 11, 2019. The native of Perham, Minn., went from a walk-on at the University of Minnesota to an All-American and U.S. champion. Continuing to compete while undergoing cancer treatments, Grunewald created two new races to raise funds and public awareness for rare cancers. In 2018, she formed the Brave Like Gabe Foundation with the mission of supporting rare cancer research and empowering cancer survivors.
Awarded to a person, in the sports community, who paves the way in their field for future generations while giving back to the broader Minnesota community through acts of leadership and service.
Kevin Warren, Minnesota Vikings/Big Ten Conference – On Jan. 1, 2020, Warren will become the sixth commissioner of the Big Ten and the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference. Prior to leading the Big Ten, Warren was the Chief Operating Officer for the Minnesota Vikings. He was the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for an NFL team and was the first African-American COO in NFL history. Along with his wife, Greta, Warren is involved in several charities focused on strengthening communities, helping the disenfranchised and educating young people.
Star Tribune Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame Inductees
John Gagliardi – For 60 years, Gagliardi was the head coach of the Saint John’s football team, becoming the all-time winningest college football coach with a 489-138-11 (.775) record.
Willard Ikola – A silver medalist goalie at the 1956 Winter Olympics, Ikola later coached Edina High School to eight state tournament titles and an amazing record of 600-140-38 (.796).
Randall McDaniel – Regarded as one of the finest offensive linemen in NFL history, McDaniel’s career included a streak of 202 consecutive starts and 12 straight Pro Bowl berths.
Randy Moss – One of the best wide receivers ever in the NFL, Moss ended his 14-year career with 982 receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns.
John Randle – Signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings, Randle amassed 137.5 sacks during his 14-year.
Lindsay Whalen – After leading the Gophers to their first-ever NCAA Final Four in 2004, Whalen became the winningest player in WNBA history, helping the Minnesota Lynx capture four titles.
The Minnesota Sports Awards – created to shine a spotlight on the impact of sports throughout the state – provides fans from across the state with an opportunity to nominate athletes and coaches who have demonstrated excellence in their sports and leadership within the community.
Minnesota sports fans nominate their favorite athletes and coaches for the Minnesota Sports Awards. A committee of sports journalists and sports executives from around the state selected the finalists and winners for each of the awards.
ABOUT SPORTS MINNEAPOLIS
Sports Minneapolis leads the region in bidding, winning and executing major professional and amateur sporting events that impact the city of Minneapolis and beyond. Sports Minneapolis, a division within Meet Minneapolis, has played a major role in securing events such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Final Four, Major League Baseball All-Star Game, USA Girls’ Jr. Volleyball, CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer, X Games and more. Amateur and professional sports events increase visitor spending and tax revenue that benefits the local community.
Sports Minneapolis and its partners, including the University of Minnesota, have secured upcoming NCAA championships and major events, such as the 2020 Division I Wrestling Championships, the 2021 Division I Men’s Gymnastics Championships, and the 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Regional. In addition, Sports Minneapolis and its partners will be the local organizing committee for the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four.
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