Amidst the numbing daily drip of grim news on the COVID-19 front, Cal athletes produced some moments in 2020 that are worth celebrating.
Here are a few of our favorites:
— Former Cal star Collin Morikawa, just 23 and barely a year after graduation, won the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.
"It's amazing. It's been a life goal, obviously, since I was a little kid," Morikawa said afterward. "This is what I've always wanted to do. I felt very comfortable from the start as an amateur, junior golfer, turning professional last year,
"But to finally close it off and come out here in San Francisco, pretty much second home, where I spent the last four years, is pretty special."
— Slugger Andrew Vaughn, drafted No. 3 overall out of Cal just a year earlier, was invited to the Chicago White Sox spring training camp. The minor leagues canceled their season in 2020, but not before Vaughn for a few swings against the Big Leaguers i Arizona.
“The big thing for me was getting up there, seeing the pitching, just getting a feel for the game at the highest level,” Vaughn.
The taste he got only fueled his drive to reach the Big Leagues.
“Obviously, I want to be there one day,” he said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
— Former one-and-done basketball standout Jaylen Brown blossomed into a 20-points-per-game scorer with the Boston Celtics in his fourth NBA season, then made his presence felt on a bigger stage, leading protests against racial injustice.
“Jaylen’s a high achiever,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said late in the 2019-2020 season. “You can be a high achiever in every which way. He’s a guy that – we’ve talked about several times – is gonna do bigger things off the court than on it, and he’s a special player on it.”
— World Cup soccer star Alex Morgan, gave birth to her first child in May then signed a contract in September to play with the Tottenham Hotspurs in the Women’s Super League in September.
Morgan, 31, on loan to the London club on loan from the Orlando Pride, made her Tottenham debut two months later.
"It just feels good to get back on the field for the first time in over a year so happy about that," Morgan said after her first game, "I think my fitness is getting back there. It's just going to take some time. I'm going to have to get game time to get match fit."
— Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, approaching 38 and in his 16th season with the Green Bay Packers, is fashioning one of his finest seasons and is a serious contender to win his third MVP trophy in the NFL.
Rodgers leads the NFL with 44 touchdowns this season (with just five interceptions), completing 70 percent of his pass attempts for more than 4,000 yards for the 12-3 Packers.
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo