On Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin announced that men’s hockey star Cole Caufield and women’s hockey star Daryl Watts were named University of Wisconsin Athletes of the Year. With the honor, they are both now eligible to be named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year which, for Watts, seems weird since she doesn’t even play in the Big Ten, but let’s not let that get in the way of celebrating this!
Two of the Badgers' best!— Wisconsin Badgers (@UWBadgers) July 14, 2021
This year's "Wisconsin Athletes of the Year" are Cole Caufield of @BadgerMHockey and Daryl Watts of @BadgerWHockey!
INFO » https://t.co/dpz1Edh6zH pic.twitter.com/eydtmZ6DC2
The Big Ten has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 and first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members, with one male and one female student-athlete nominated from each Big Ten institution to be considered for the honor.
Here is Wisconsin’s profile of Caufield:
The 2021 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner as the nation’s top men’s college hockey player, Cole Caufield was the country’s top scorer with 30 goals and 52 points in just 31 games. He scored an astounding 11 more goals than the next closest player in the country.
USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson College Player of the Year and the unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year, Caufield led the Badgers to the Big Ten regular-season championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. That helped him add 2021 Big Ten All-Tournament Team and 2021 NCAA East All-Regional Team to his resume.
The Stevens Point, Wisconsin native’s year included a gold medal as an alternate captain with Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and his NHL debut and a run to the Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens. His Cup performance put him third on the Canadiens in postseason scoring despite sitting out the first two games of the playoffs.
And here is what UW had to say about Watts:
Hailing from Toronto, Watts collected several awards during her senior campaign as she was named a first-team All-American, the WCHA Player of the Year and a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, the highest individual honor in women’s college hockey.
The back-to-back WCHA scoring champion, Watts led the NCAA in points per game this year, averaging 1.71 per contest. Her 19 goals also paced the country, while her 5 game-winning goals ranked second in the nation.
Watts scored several notable goals, including the game-winning overtime goal in the Badgers’ 2-1 triumph over Northeastern that secured UW’s sixth national championship and the program’s second-straight NCAA crown. The winger also scored the game-winning overtime goal that sealed UW’s ninth WCHA regular-season title and an overtime goal that gave UW a comeback win at Border Battle rival Minnesota.
While Caufield is now very much a professional athlete, Watts will be returning to Madison for one more year to try and win UW’s third straight national title.