StarTribune: Sportsperson of the Year

The StarTribune sports staff has been naming a Sportsperson of the Year since 1998. Printed courtesy of the Star-Tribune. Names appearing in RED are links for those that were speakers at Twin Cities Dunkers.

2022: Justin Jefferson

The third-year Vikings wide receiver has developed into a bona fide superstar, launching himself into record books and imaginations with a combination of grit, grace and the Griddy.

2021: Suni Lee

The gymnast from St. Paul, the first Hmong American to make an Olympic team, came home from the Tokyo Olympics with three medals, including the gold for winning the all-around competition.

2020: Eric Kendricks

The Vikings linebacker turned his private work into public activism after the killing of George Floyd.

2019: Nelson Cruz

The veteran slugger brought clout to the Twins, on the field and in the clubhouse.

2018: Maggie Nichols

The Little Canada native dominated the NCAA gymnastics championships as Oklahoma’s star — three months after courageously revealing herself as “Athlete A,” the first source in the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

2017: Cheryl Reeve

The coach behind the united, thoughtful, powerful Minnesota Lynx led the franchise to its fourth WNBA title in seven years.

2016: Jeff Hinz

As the Ryder Cup tournament director at Hazeltine National, he organized one of the greatest sporting events in Minnesota history.

2015: Maya Moore

Hit a Finals Game 3 buzzer-beater, and many more big shots in the playoffs, to lead the Lynx to their third WNBA title.

2014: Mike Grant

Veteran Eden Prairie football coach won his fourth consecutive state title and 10th overall.

2013: Gopher Women's Hockey

Produced a 41-0 record, an NCAA championship and a 62-game winning streak over two seasons.

2012: Adrian Peterson

Rushed for 2,097 yards, second most in NFL history, and was named the league’s MVP, leading the Vikings to a 10-6 regular-season record and their first playoff berth in three years.

2011: Seimone Augustus

After two years of misfortune, the Lynx star dug deep and inspired her team to a WNBA title.

2010: Earl Santee

The architect of Target Field turned an urban parking lot into the “best ballpark in America.”

2009: Brett Favre

Future Hall of Famer led the Vikings to a 12-4 regular season and into the NFC Championship Game. At age 40, Favre completed 68% of his passes.

2008: Lindsey Vonn

She became the most successful downhill skier in U.S. history and the first American woman in 25 years to win the World Cup overall title.

2007: Adrian Peterson

The Vikings rookie set the single-game rushing record with 296 yards in his eighth game.

2006: Minnesota Twins

A playoff team with a Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), an MVP (Justin Morneau) and a batting champion (Joe Mauer) also got approval for a stadium.

2005: Greg Eslinger

All-America center and all-time Gophers great won the Outland Trophy, given to the country’s best interior lineman.

2004: Lindsay Whalen

Driving force behind the Gophers women’s basketball program reaching the Final Four.

2003: John Gagliardi

The St. John’s legend earned his 409th victory on Nov. 8, 2003, becoming college football’s winningest coach, and his team won the NCAA Division III title.

2002: Harry Crump

Hennepin County judge issued a restraining order that kept the Twins out of MLB’s contraction plans.

2001: Joe Mauer

Three-sport star at Cretin-Durham Hall was one of the state’s all-time great high school athletes before he put on a Twins uniform.

2000: Jac Sperling

The Wild’s chief executive led the NHL back to Minnesota and started the rally to build Xcel Energy Center.

1999: Glen Mason

The Gophers’ most successful football season in three decades (culminating with a Sun Bowl matchup against Oregon) earned him Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

1998: Randall Cunningham

Out of football before joining the Vikings as a backup quarterback, he led the team to a 15-1 regular season at the age of 35.

Note: Candidates are nominated by the Star Tribune sports department. A selection committee of staff members makes the final choice.

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