2019

Nelson Cruz: The veteran slugger, at age 39, brought clout to the Twins on the field and in the clubhouse leading the Bomba Squad to 101 wins and a major league record 307 home runs, including 41 of his own.

2018

Maggie Nichols: The Little Canada native dominated the NCAA gymnastics championships as Oklahoma's star — three months after courageously revealing herself as "Athlete A," the first source in the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

2017

Cheryl Reeve: The coach behind the united, thoughtful, powerful Minnesota Lynx led the franchise to its fourth WNBA title in seven years.

2016

Jeff Hintz: As the Ryder Cup tournament director at Hazeltine National, he organized one of the greatest sporting events in Minnesota history.

2015

Maya Moore: She hit a Finals Game 3 buzzer-beater, and many more big shots in the playoffs, to lead the Lynx to their third WNBA title.

2014

Mike Grant: The veteran Eden Prairie football coach won his fourth consecutive state title and 10th overall.

2013

Gophers women's hockey: The team produced a 41-0 record, an NCAA championship and a 62-game winning streak over two seasons.

2012

Adrian Peterson: He rushed for 2,097 yards, second most in NFL history, and was named the league's MVP, leading the Vikings to a 10-6 regular-season record and their first playoff berth in three years.

2011

Seimone Augustus:After two years of misfortune, the Lynx star dug deep and inspired her team to a WNBA title.

2010

Earl Santee:The architect of Target Field turned an urban parking lot into the "best ballpark in America."

2009

Brett Favre:The future Hall of Famer led the Vikings to a 12-4 regular season and into the NFC Championship Game. At age 40, Favre completed 68% of his passes.

2008

Lindsey Vonn:She became the most successful downhill skier in U.S. history and the first American woman in 25 years to win the World Cup overall title.

2007

Adrian Peterson:The Vikings rookie set the single-game rushing record with 296 yards in his eighth game.

2006

Twins organization:A playoff team with a Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), an MVP (Justin Morneau) and a batting champion (Joe Mauer) also got approval for a stadium.

2005

Greg Eslinger:The All-America center and all-time Gophers great won the Outland Trophy, given to the country's best interior lineman.

2004

Lindsay Whalen:She was the driving force behind the Gophers women's basketball program reaching the Final Four.

2003

John Gagliardi:The St. John's legend earned his 409th victory on Nov. 8, 2003, becoming college football's winningest coach, and his team won the NCAA Division III title.

2002

Harry Crump:Hennepin County judge issued a restraining order that kept the Twins out of MLB's contraction plans.

2001

Joe Mauer:The three-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall was one of the state's all-time great high school athletes before he put on a Twins uniform.

2000

Jac Sperling:The Wild's chief executive led the NHL back to Minnesota and started the rally to build Xcel Energy Center.

1999

Glen Mason: The Gophers' most successful football season in three decades (culminating with a Sun Bowl matchup against Oregon) earned him Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

1998

Randall Cunningham: Out of football before joining the Vikings as a backup quarterback, he led the team to a 15-1 regular season at the age of 35.

Note:Candidates are nominated by the Star Tribune sports department. A selection committee of staff members makes the final choice.