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When Douglas County softball coach and teacher Brian Stebbins told Jordan Acosta he was going to nominate her for the Steinmark Award, it sent Acosta on an information search.
“That night I went home and I was like a kid in a candy store just (grabbing) all the information I could to find out about it,” she related. “I was reading about Freddie Steinmark and his inspiring story and all of his accomplishments. It was unbelievable that I was even able to apply for it and be nominated for it.”
Acosta became the 45th winner of the girls Steinmark and was presented the award June 7 during Colorado High School Coaches Association's All-State softball game at Adams State College in Alamosa. Pomona's Brandon Micale was the winner of the boys Steinmark Award.
“When I heard the news that I had won, it just means so much and is such an acknowledgment of what I've done the past four years in high school,” said Acosta. “It will further push me to what I want to do in the future in college and my career. I am just so humbled by it.”
The Steinmark Award is the most prestigious award for a Colorado high school athlete and was created in 1972 by Scott Stocker, who writes for Colorado Community Media. The award, now presented by the CHSCA, honors three-sport former Wheat Ridge student-athlete Freddie Steinmark, who went on to play football at the University of Texas and was a member of the 1969 Longhorns national championship team.
Steinmark died from cancer in 1972 at the age of 22.
Applicants for the Steinmark must be seniors who have at least a 3.0 GPA, participate in at least two varsity sports, and earned All-Conference honors in one sport and All-State in another.
Acosta wrote an essay on what it would mean to win the Steinmark.
“I talked about how I could relate to Freddie Steinmark with his adversity, how I was so touched by what he had done for the game and how much passion, integrity and respect he brought,” she explained. “Not only do I honor that, I try to re-create that in all the games that I play.”
Acosta's adversity was overcoming a knee injury she suffered as a junior while playing basketball in February 2016. She had a tibial plateau fracture and underwent surgery to put two screws and bone grafts in her left knee in March. Doctors expected at least eight months of rehabilitation which would put her senior softball season in jeopardy.
Acosta didn't listen.
“I felt after the injury, I can either take a step back and this is the ending and accept it. Or I can start over. I was able to spend four months trying to get as close to what I thought would be best for me.
“I drank so much milk to try and strengthen that bone. When I was injured I would sit on a chair because I couldn't put any weight on it and swing at my tee just to try to keep up my skills. I was actually able to cut my recovery in half and I was back in three to four months.”
Acosta had accepted a scholarship to play softball at Colorado State University. Coach Jen Fisher asked Acosta if she would be ready to play as a freshman.
“I told her I will be 150 percent when I get there,” said Acosta. “There's no doubt in my mind that this will not affect me. I'm playing summer ball now and it's not an issue.”
Acosta is the first Steinmark winner from Douglas County.
She had an unweighted grade point average of 4.0 and a weighted GPA of 4.17. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Link Crew, Project Unify and the DCHS Leadership Group.
Acosta earned 10 varsity letters in softball, basketball and track. She didn't play basketball as a senior because of the knee injury.
She hit .522 last fall with a slugging percentage of .644 and she stole 13 bases. She struck out only twice in 103 plate appearances. She had a four-season career batting average of .464 and broke the career school record for runs with 123.
“My heart is before my mind and my mind is way over my body,” she concluded. “I just play and I play hard.”
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