The Most Inspiring Sports Moments of 2014
There was no shortage of sports stories in 2014. Some made us cheer, some made us boo, some made us feel outraged and some left us sick to our stomach. However, there were plenty of stories that proved to us just how inspiring and full of goodness some of our favorite pastimes can be.
We decided to take a look back at some of those moments and stories, which occurred at every level, before focusing on next year and what type of inspiration it too will bring.
Return of the Jamaican Bobsled
Most people are familiar with the Jamaican bobsled team, popularized by the 1993 film Cool Runnings, however this year’s team epitomized the term underdog.
Jamaica had not qualified for the Olympics in bobsledding since 2002 and it seemed unlikely the team would get the chance to shock the world at Sochi. While the team qualified this time around, the country lacked the funding to send the bobsledders, and their equipment, half-way around the world. The country quickly intervened and within just two days donated $30,000 – but then the story went viral.
From there, it exploded, receiving almost $130,000 for the team, far surpassing their goal. After an issue with losing their luggage, the team took to the track and was cheered on by fans all countries, almost as much as their native land. Though things didn’t turn out the way the Jamaican bobsled team hoped, this story just showed how a small donation can make dreams come true.
A Woman in a Girl’s Body
The Little League World Series is a tradition unlike any in sports – and this year, one little girl changed the face of the sport forever.
It had been quite some time since a girl participated in the LLWS, but Mo’ne Davis didn’t just participate, she dominated. That’s right, Davis doesn’t throw like a girl, instead, she hurls it about 70 mph – equivalent to 93 mph on a full-sized diamond – which helped her pitch several shutouts en route to becoming the first girl to pitch a winning game at the LLWS.
Seemingly overnight, she became the spotlight of the country, becoming the first Little League baseball player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated while also appearing on ESPN’s Sports Center. Even Pennsylvania’s governor declared one day she’d play professionally. Though her Philadelphia-based team didn’t win it all, she still earned a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame – not too shabby for a little girl, one who was groundbreaking for the sport.
Falling on Deaf Ears
When the Seattle Seahawks made just their second Super Bowl appearance this year, stories were flying around about all kinds of storylines. The most inspiring, however, was the tale of Derrick Coleman.
He might not be a superstar, but Coleman was an important piece of Seattle’s puzzle – and the backup fullback helped lead his team to its first championship. Coleman, who participated in his first full season as mainly a special teams player, became a national headline thanks to a 60-second video. The video was a commercial for Duracell batteries, focused on – and narrated by – Coleman, who, despite insurmountable odds, made it to the NFL. The road was difficult, faced with challenges from coaches, teammates and a lack of believers, however he made it – and it goes a long way in explaining that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Olympic Gold Déjà vu
Canadian Alex Bilodeau made headlines around the world during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, winning the gold in ski moguls – but it was what he did after that warmed the hearts of so many.
Bilodeau made sure the first person he shared his victory with was his brother Frederic, who suffers from cerebral palsy. At this year’s games in Sochi, Bilodeau once again took home gold and, yet again, made sure to embrace his brother, whom he credits as his inspiration, after the win. The photo immediately stole the headlines in Canada and around the world. Bolodeau, now retired from the sport, even dedicated the gold medal to his brother, admitting in an interview with TODAY:
“He’s worked hard. He’s encouraged me. He’s always been there with me through those four years, working hard. He’s a big part of that.”
Related: 10 Best Sports Photographs of 2014
San Francisco’s BatKid
While it might be more of a technicality, this story is too good to leave off. Amidst a difficult battle with lymphoblastic leukemia, Miles Scott asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation if he could be “Batkid”, a sidekick to Batman, Detective Comics’ caped crusader – and boy, did they deliver.
With the help of thousands of volunteers, city officials, businesses and supporters, San Francisco was transformed into Batman’s fictional home, Gotham City in what was perhaps the foundation’s most elaborate wish to date.
Complete with the Batmobile, a front page story in the newspaper and villains, the young boy’s day ended at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, where he later threw out the first pitch to Giants star Matt Cain.
Several months ago Devon Still wasn’t a household name, however that all changed when the National Football League and its fans rallied around one little girl.
In June, the Cincinnati Bengals lineman was informed that his daughter Leah was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer often found in children. Still spent the next three weeks by his daughter’s side, and even shaved his head to raise awareness for the disease. In a show of support, the Bengals permitted Still’s jersey to be sold with the money going to pediatric cancer research. In just four days, $400,000 was raised and as of the beginning of the NFL season, jersey sales hovered at about $1 million. Even the New England Patriots showed their support for Still while facing the Bengals – with the team’s cheerleaders donning his jersey. Leah greeting him at the airport after her surgery is simply heartwarming.
Collapsing High School Runner
Kayla Montgomery is an award-winning long distance runner, however she’s not like most of her fellow athletes. At 14, Montgomery was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but continues to break all kinds of cross country records. She never gives up, even when the disease causes her legs to go completely numb over the course of her race.
During a 5,000 meter indoor championship race in New York, she overcame the odds and completed a personal victory. What followed was another viral video warming the hearts of many. After the race, Montgomery collapsed in the arms of her coach – something she does at the end of many races. All of this coming after she won the North Carolina State Championship after falling on the first life.
Kayla is proof that you can accomplish anything.