Video: Gatorade POY surprised by Jennie Finch
See Taylor Dockins, who was diagnosed with liver cancer in July, receive softball's top award by one of the game's legends.
The reaction was pure shock. Then joy. Then a flood of tears.
Anyone being surprised with the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award would be emotional. Having it presented by Jennie Finch, an icon in your sport, only adds to it.
But the story of Norco (Calif.)
softball standout Taylor Dockins
is multi-layered. Much like a mocha chai tea latte.
The senior pitcher was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer in last July. She fought through surgery and two subsequent infections before delivering the finest season of an illustrious career for one of the nation's top programs.
"She just has that amazing drive inside her," Norco coach Rick Robinson
told Eric-Paul Johnson of The Press-Enterprise. "She went through a very
difficult time last summer, but I believe that made her even stronger
and more determined."
The Cal State Fullerton-bound standout went 33-1, posted a 1.00 ERA with 183 strikeouts in 203 innings. She hit .454 with seven doubles, scored 30 runs and drove in 27 more.
Along the way, the 5-foot-5 right-hander earned two Big VIII All-League MVP awards, broke the Southern California record for career wins (108) and her 33 consecutive triumphs this season set a Southern Section record.
This smack dab in the middle of the nation's hotbed of the sport.
Clearly, Gatorade's award was no sympathy case.
On Wednesday, even the vivacious and determined Dockins broke down.
The marketing folks at Gatorade told her they were doing a video feature on a day in her life. Dockins was selected the organization's California state Player of the Year earlier this month.
Her first stop most days is to her favorite coffee place, Expresso Urban Café, so the video crew followed her in.
Dockins had no clue her barista was Finch, the two-time Olympic softball pitcher and fellow Southern California native.
Not only did Finch deliver her favorite morning beverage, but she handed Dockins the national award. A flood of tears were followed by a flood of family and friends, hidden in back of the coffee house, who immediately engaged in a humongous group hug.
"I was completely shocked and overwhelmed," Dockins said. "I am so thankful and grateful. I have no words to describe it."
Finch did, saying Dockins "embodies everything the award stands for. Not only has Taylor excelled on the field but she's also a stellar student and is a positive influence in the community. She's persevered through a lot already in her career, and I'm excited to see what she'll accomplish in the future."