Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Recognizes Shiffrin & CSU Pueblo Football Team
Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Recognizes Shiffrin & CSU Pueblo Football Team

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Recognizes Shiffrin & CSU Pueblo Football Team

DENVER—World champion skier Mikaela Shiffrin has been selected for the second consecutive year as the Colorado Athlete of the Year for the 2014 calendar year. The Centennial State’s Sports Hall of Fame will also honor the NCAA Division II football champions from Colorado State University at Pueblo as the “King of the Hill” recipients at the 51st annual banquet on Thursday, April 2, at the Denver Marriott City Center.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the Selection Committee of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame also picked collegiate standouts Rashard Higgins of Colorado State University (men’s football) and Taylor Simpson (women’s volleyball), along with high school honorees Phil Downing of Broomfield (boys wrestling) and Alexa Smith of Lewis-Palmer (girls volleyball) as athletes of the year.  Garrison Hayes with the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) is the 2014 recipient of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s Disabled Athlete Recognition Award.

Hayes and the Athletes of the Year selections will be honored at the banquet along with the newest Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inductees: Chauncey Billups, John Dikeou, John Gagliardi, Becky Hammon, Roy Halladay and the late Warren Mitchell.  The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015 was selected this past October.

Tickets are $200 each and sponsor tables start at $2,500.  For additional for ticket and table information, please contact the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame ( / 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.

While Shiffrin ended the 2014 season as the Olympic, World Cup and World Champion in slalom, the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves captured the school’s first national championship as a four-year school by winning the Division II football crown last month in Kansas City where the school shutout Minnesota-Mankato 13-0 in the title game to end the season with a 14-1 record.  Since restarting the football program in 2008 under the leadership of John Wristen, CSU-Pueblo has posted a 68-16 record with four-straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles.

After showing glimpses of what he could do catching footballs in 2013, Higgins burst on the national scene at Colorado State University this past fall, becoming one of the nations’ leading receivers.  He registered 89 catches, good for 1,640 yards and an eye-popping 17 TDs to lead the nation. Higgins was a First Team Consensus All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver as well.

Simpson became the first volleyball player from the University of Colorado at Boulder this past fall to be named to the AVCA All-American first team.  The outside hitter from Colorado Springs set the single-season kills record with 591 and recorded a career-best 32 kills in a five set loss to CSU.

Downing never lost in the four years he competed in the state wrestling tournament at Pepsi Center.  Before him there had only been 16 wrestlers dating back to 1956 that had won four state titles.  In the midst of doing something the wrestling tournament hadn’t seen since 2010, Downing’s performance was also key to Broomfield bringing home the 4A team title.

Smith led Lewis-Palmer to the Class 4A state championship which led MaxPreps to select the Rangers as their national champions.  The Gatorade state player of the year and the CHSAA 4A POY and a finalist for MaxPreps' National Player of the Year, Smith was selected a first-team All American by Under Armour and USA Today.  She was a member of the U.S. women’s junior national team that won gold at the U20 NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) Continental Championship in July.

A cancer survivor, Hayes was introduced to the NSCD at age seven where he participated in a soccer camp as his experience reassured him that he could still be active after his left leg amputation.  Participating in a variety of spots, Hayes set national records in seven track and field events this summer as he earned one gold medal and two silver medals at the IWAS World Junior Games in England.

At the 2014 USA Paralympics Track & Field National Championships in California, Hayes earned a gold medal and was named National Champion in the high jump in the F42 class and earned a bronze medal in the long jump.  He was received the National Interscholastic Cycling Association Sho-Air Extraordinary Courage Award in 2014 along with the Colorado High School Cycling League Trailblazer Award.

Since its inception in 1965, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 234 individuals prior to Tuesday’s selection meeting for the Class of 2015.  The first class of inductees featured Earl “Dutch” Clark, Jack Dempsey and former Supreme Court justice Byron “Whizzer” White.  Otis Armstrong, Forrest B. “Frosty” Cox, Andy Gambucci, Darian Hagan, Todd Helton and Dorothy Mauk were inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame this past April.