The 2012 year in sports was a tough one to swallow. There was the Penn State scandal, Junior Seau’s suicide, Bountygate in New Orleans, the NHL lockout, Lance Armstrong being stripped of everything, Javon Belcher doing the unthinkable in Kansas City, and Jerry Brown being killed in a drunk driving accident, just to name a few of the dark moments of the year.
It’s enough to drag any sports fan down into the dumps.
Well, we’re a positive lot here at TeamNames.net, and we want to bid farewell to 2012 with smiles on our faces, so we searched our memory banks for some of the best heartwarming, feel-good sports memories of 2012. Here’s what we came up with:
No. 5: Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Champions
It didn’t look good for the Kings a year ago when, staring at a 13-12-4 record, an anemic offense and a four-game losing streak, the team fired its coach.
Under new coach Darryl Sutter, however, the Kings managed to turn things around and slip into the NHL playoffs as the No. 8 seed (out of 8 teams). They then made short work of the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 teams in the conference—wiping out the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes in order with a combined 12 wins and just two losses—becoming just the second team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat.
The dream season was crowned with a 4-2 series victory over the New Jersey Devils, turning the Kings into Stanley Cup champions for the first time in their 45-year franchise history.
No. 4: Holley Mangold and Sarah Robles, Team USA weightlifters
Mangold and Robles don’t have the typical physiques that you’d expect of Olympic athletes—Mangold stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 350 pounds while Robles is 5-foot-10 and weighs 275 pounds—and both have had to overcome the stigma of being a “big girl” or being “built like a guy.”
But both ladies overcame the odds and the stereotypes and became the lone U.S. weightlifting representatives in the London Olympics. Unfortunately, Mangold tore a tendon in her wrist before the Olympics and finished 10th out of 14 lifters in London. Robles finished in seventh place.
No. 3: Adam Greenberg, baseball player
In 2005 against the Florida Marlins, Greenberg stepped up to the plate in a Chicago Cubs uniform for the first time in his MLB career and was promptly drilled in the head with a pitch. He never appeared in another major league game.
That is until a Cubs fan started an online petition that led to the Miami Marlins signing Greenberg to a one-day contract and giving him a second chance to make a first impression in the bigs. Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but the Baltimore Orioles are now interested in seeing what he can do.
No. 2: Michelle Jenneke, Australian hurdler
Jenneke’s beautiful smile, knockout body, and sexy pre-race warm-up routine captivated the world (the male half of it, anyway) as she raced her way to fifth place in the 100-meter hurdles in the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Men everywhere are hoping to see the 19-year-old Aussie in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.
No. 1: Meghan Vogel, Ohio high school track star
West Liberty-Salem (Ohio) High School junior track athlete Meghan Vogel had already won the state title in the 1,600 meters during the Ohio Division III state track and field meet when she was competing in the 3,200-meter finals.
As Vogel approached the finish line, she saw a sophomore from Arlington (Ohio) High School, Arden McMath, collapsed on the track from exhaustion. Instead of just stepping over her, Vogel helped her opponent to her feet and then helped her cross the finish line in a spectacular display of sportsmanship.
Let’s hope that 2013 brings us more of these happy memories and fewer of the bad ones.