Monday, September 11, 2017

2014 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Stephen Gross

2014 - Stephen "Stacey" Gross

Stacey was the most skilled freshman we'd had join the team since Andy Stringer in 2006. In his first year, he immediately became an O-line player and top thrower. He had a devastating baseline of speed, size, footwork, throws and a tenacious attitude.  He was a core player and our main thrower in all four years that he played.

One night in late fall 2012, we had an indoor practice in the field house on the campus. Stacey was late, which was pretty unlike him. I didn't think much of it as we began a warmup around the track. Maybe fifteen minutes into practice Stacey snuck in the side door, limping slightly. I'll never forget the look on his face - just so filled with shame, guilt and disappointment. He'd come down awkwardly at indoor league just before practice and torn his ACL. It was a bummer for the team, but it was most disappointing for Stacey - he lived and breathed Hib.

As I outlined in Kyle's entry, we re-tooled the team strategy after Stacey got hurt - we just couldn't replicate what he could do with the disc. Stacey got surgery for his knee as quickly as he could and dove into his rehab with the same tenacious attitude he took on the field. At sectionals, (~6 months after his surgery), he played a couple of the easier games. At regionals, he was back to doing Stacey things, helping us to a 7th place finish, our best since 2008.

For his senior year, Stacey was healthy and at full strength for the entire year, but unfortunately the rest of the team just slogged through a barrage of different injuries. Throughout the entire Spring, we struggled to get the team healthy with Stacey and largely just first years our only consistently healthy players. At sectionals, with 7 starters not playing, we went 0-4, missing out on regionals for the first time since I'd been a part of the team. It was a heartbreaking turn of events, but I felt it most for Stacey; he'd lost most of his junior year to his ACL injury and his senior year, the team just couldn't stay healthy around him - he put everything he had into it.

Stacey played out his fifth year of eligibility at Brandeis University, leading the team to a 2nd place finish at DIII nationals. He returned to Colorado to work on his PhD and bounced around to different club teams including Choice City Hops and Inception. Stacey took the 2017 club season off (mostly) but I look forward to him getting back into the mix next year and displaying his talents on a national level.

To this day, I believe the two most well-rounded players to ever play at CSU during my time here - guys who could literally do anything on the field at exceptional levels - are Brett Kolinek and Stacey. I have such a huge respect for Stacey's dedication to the team, sport, and to always working hard to better himself. I'm really proud of the player he was during his time in school and the player he continues to be.


Honorable Mentions: Oliver Feind, William Haden Chomphosy, Daniel Walker-Murray, Matt Marrapode

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