Many times the most interesting stories are told off the pitch. It's true, the best tales are often the ones that peel back the surface and examine the true reasons we love sports: the people, the community, the connections. This year, the stories that captivated us had themes of passion, resilience and determination. Without further ado, here are the top five from the 2017 season:
5. Centennial 38: A Burgundy Heartbeat
C38 member Miguel Sifuentes is a die-hard Rapids fan and his drumbeats ring loud and clear during every match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. His passion, like his drumming, is unrelenting. For Miguel and his fellow C38 members matchday is a lifestyle and you'll see what being a supporter means as you follow the journey during a September match with NYCFC.
4. Dillon Serna's Road to Recovery | Episode 3
Homegrown midfielder Dillon Serna was sidelined for eight months due to a knee injury at the end of the 2016 season. Watching the team's success from the sidelines was excruciating, but thanks to his teammates, friends and family he was able to recover in time for the 2017 season. ‘Road to Recovery' presented by Transamerica’' is a three-part series that takes you behind the scenes through Serna's recovery. The series culminates in a must-see final episode where the Colorado native is cleared for action and returns to the pitch in front of his home fans.
More Road to Recovery episodes:
3. The Process | 10 Years of the Rapids Development Academy
Get an all-access look into a day in a life of a Rapids Development Academy player as they chase the ultimate goal of becoming a professional. This year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Rapids Development Academy, and ‘The Process’ gives viewers an in-depth look at the history of the program, including how it prepared homegrown players Kortne Ford, Dillon Serna and Richi Perez to step on the pitch with the first team. In addition, Senior Director of Soccer Development Brian Crookham and Development Academy Program Director Chris Martinez provides insight on the future of the program.
2. Kortne Ford | Letter to mom on Mother's Day
Do you have your tissues ready? Homegrown defender Kortne Ford reading a letter to his mom Laurie, who is battling cancer, was one of the most heartfelt moments of the 2017 season. Earlier this year, Kortne Ford announced via Twitter that his mother Laurie Ford was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Since then, the Rapids community has shown support in extraordinary ways. Some contributed by standing in the 24th minute of matches on May 5 and May 13, while others provided monetary support by making a deposit to Laurie’s GoFundMe page. In July, Michael Azira and his wife organized a online jersey auction that raised $10,000 for Laurie. Her fight is not over. If you'd like to contribute to Laurie's treatment fund, please visit www.gofundme.com/laurieford.
1. Jason Horton receiving his ESPY
Arguably one of the most memorable moments of the season was when Zac MacMath, Eric Miller and Dillon Powers delivered Rapids Special Olympics Unified player Jason Horton his Honorary ESPY in person. Due to complications from cancer treatments, Horton could not finish the 2016 Rapids Unified season. With the continued support of his friends and family, he returned to the pitch for the Rapids Unified team's first match of the 2017. Jason is an inspiration to his teammates, Rapids players and the entire organization. Learn more about Jason's inspiring story by clicking HERE.
Want to see more? Click HERE for all the best video content from 2017.