We have seen many great athletes walk through Baylor University, and several have made their way around campus during the last year. Some perform outstanding individual feats, while others exemplify the meaning of perseverance and teamwork.
A select few have set themselves apart with their feats; here are the Baylor Lariat’s 2014 Athletes of the Year.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Odyssey Sims, Women’s Basketball
Former Lady Bear point guard Odyssey Sims is the definition of an athlete. Sims played a huge role in route to the team’s 2012 national title and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2013, but it was her senior leadership in the 2013-14 season that sets her apart. In her final season as a Lady Bear, Sims scored 1,054 points and averaged 28.5 per game while contributing over four rebounds and almost two steals per contest. The stellar athlete started for four years on the Lady Bear roster and is the all-time assist leader and three-point field goals leader in program history. Her aggressive playing ability and dominant attitude helped guide Baylor to the Elite Eight last season as she posted 33 points in her final game against Notre Dame. Sims graduated in May 2014 and was the second-overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Tulsa Shock. She averages 16.7 points per contest and has started 31 of 34 games in her rookie season.
RUNNER-UP: Bryce Petty, Football
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty brought a different level of competition during his final season as a Baylor Bear. Even as Petty suffered a back injury early in the season and most recently a mild concussion against Texas Tech on Nov. 29, he led the Bears to a second straight Big 12 title in route to the Cotton Bowl. Petty posted over 3,300 passing yards for 25 touchdowns during the regular season and had 5 rushing touchdowns of his own. There’s no word on whether or not Petty will enter the NFL Draft, but his decision to return for his senior year provided the Bears with an advantage coming into the season. Petty’s faith helped him stay poised during a tough journey, and he goes down in history as the only quarterback to win a Big 12 conference title in consecutive seasons. Petty graduated in December with a master’s degree in sports management and will play his final game on Thursday.
HONORABLE MENTION: Whitney Canion, Softball
There has perhaps not been a finer season in Baylor softball history than the one put up by Whitney Canion in her sixth-year season. The Aledo native finished the year as Baylor’s all-time win and strikeout leader, and was also named a First Team All-American, the first such player in program history. For her work both on and off the field, she was named Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year. Her most masterful performance came in the NCAA Regionals against Tulsa, where she threw 305 pitches between two legs of a double-header to launch the Bears to the Super Regionals and eventually the Women’s College World Series. In addition, Canion was a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and four-time First Team All-Big 12.
HONORABLE MENTION: Trayvon Bromell, Track
Trayvon Bromell is only a freshman, but may already be the greatest Baylor track star this side of Olympian Michael Johnson. The Florida native won the 100-meter national championship during his freshman season, and set a junior national record with a wind-legal 9.97 100-meter, the first sub-10 second mark ever. He also was named the 2014 Texas Relays Most Outstanding Performer, the first Baylor runner to win event since, guess who, Michael Johnson. Bromell ran a blazing 9.77 at the Big 12 Championships, albeit with wind assistance. The mark ranked ninth all time among all wind-assisted marks. With a few years of training, Bromell has a real chance to be the fastest man alive.
HONORABLE MENTION: Isaiah Austin, Men’s Basketball
Former men’s basketball center Isaiah Austin was one of the top athletes in 2014, and a lot of the attention was not about basketball. Austin made the decision to enter the 2014 NBA Draft after spending two years on the Bears’ roster. Unfortunately, his career was cut short as he received news that he had Marfan’s Syndrome, a rare genetic condition. Austin didn’t let that stop him from making a difference. Since being named an honorary draft pick by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Austin has started the Isaiah Austin Foundation raising research money for people suffering from the same condition. Austin led the Big 12 in blocked shots (119) his sophomore season and posted 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Austin still attends Baylor as he seeks a degree in finance.