For every great athlete, there will always be an ending. Whether it comes in the form of retirement from a professional league or graduation from a college or high school, a time comes for every athlete to call it quits. That ending has come for four of the most prolific female athletes in the history of Colorado State athletics.
Cassidy Denny, Ellen Nystrom, Elin Gustavsson and Haley Hutton will all be graduating this season after their unforgettable and record-breaking careers.
First is Denny, who has played every game for the CSU volleyball team since her sophomore season. She helped anchor a defense that led the way for the Rams to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2014, tied for the furthest the school has ever been.
During her final season last fall, she recorded four digs per game, good for third most in the Mountain West. Her 444 total digs marked the sixth most ever in a single season for a Ram. Being the libero, she was the leader on the court for every match and helped her team reach the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd straight year.
Denny was at the forefront of the team’s message about racial equality during their 2016 season. She put together a statement that called on the community to come together and talk about race in Fort Collins and how it affects every group around the city.
Denny felt compelled to send this message and was able to use her notoriety to spread it. She showed courage in standing up for what she believes when many athletes have been criticized for voicing theirs.
In women’s basketball, the Swedish duo of Nystrom and Gustavsson will be graduating after starting all four years and leading the Rams to four consecutive conference regular season titles, something never done in the Mountain West by a men’s or women’s team.
The duo was able to find unbreakable chemistry together, helping Nystrom become the all-time leader in assists at CSU. They also tied the school record for most wins between a pair after their first round win over Saint Mary’s in the WNIT in March. The win tied them with CSU basketball legend Becky Hammon and her counterpart Katie Cronin.
They led the team in the most successful era of women’s basketball at CSU, maintaining humility throughout. Constantly, they deflected questions about themselves and always thanked their teammates and coaches and did not care too much for the personal accolades that came in abundance.
Last, but certainly not least, is Rams softball player Haley Hutton. Like Nystrom and Gustavsson, she has started all four years during her time at CSU, setting numerous records along the way.
She is the all-time leader in runs scored, and with seven games left in the season, she is seven hits away from becoming the all-time leader in hits. Her .394 batting average coming into the season was the highest ever for a Ram, and she has kept it up this season with a .382 average.
She has been named to the Mountain West all-conference teams her first three seasons and was voted a preseason All-American honorable mention coming into her senior year. “Peach,” a nickname she has acquired due to her resemblance to the character in Super Mario, will truly be remembered as one of the best players the Rams have seen.
Hutton came to CSU to continue her family’s legacy with the school following in the footsteps of her grandpa, who served as the head athletic trainer for 31 years, and mother, who won two conference titles with CSU softball.
Despite not bringing home a conference title, Hutton set a standard Rams will attempt to emulate for years to come.
These four have left an incredible mark the CSU community as a whole. On behalf of all Rams fans and media members, I would like to thank these players and every student-athlete graduating this spring for four outstanding years.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at email@example.com or by Twitter @ajwrules44.