Linfield names Athletes of the Year
Courtesy of Linfield sports information
An unquestioned leader, transcendent athlete and all-around good-natured person, football standout Dominique Forrest has been singled out as the 2013-14 Linfield College Male Athlete of the Year.
“Dom's one of the more unique individuals that I've been around in all my time at Linfield, both athletically and as a leader,” said Wildcats defensive coordinator Jackson Vaughan.
Overcoming devastating ankle injury from the 2012 NCAA playoffs, Forrest recovered in time to start all 12 games last fall at inside linebacker. He totaled 96 tackles, including five sacks, and had 11 other tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two quarterback hurries.
“Athletically, Dom's a tremendously gifted linebacker. Very smooth, very fast, a sure tackler who gave us so much game experience. He's as good a linebacker as we have had in my time at Linfield," said Vaughan.
As many of the very best athletes are able to do, Forrest's command of the game made those who shared the field with him reach their full potential, too.
“He was a tremendous player but he's also a tremendous person, too. His teammates really looked up to him, and the game got easier for them also because of his approach.”
A consensus Division III All-American, enjoyed a tremendous four-year career. The two-time Northwest Conference and West Region Defensive Player of the Year ended up sixth on Linfield's all-time total tackles list with 259 and ranks 10th in Linfield history in unassisted tackles (140) and fourth in assisted tackles (119).
“From a leadership standpoint, he's a guy who everyone respected and a great teammate, whether they were a starter or the last guy on the bench. He's a guy who you never find anyone to say bad word about him. Dom was always positive, always upbeat. He liked big games but his demeanor never changed, no matter if it was a game in the middle of the year or a playoff game.”
Linfield's Athletes of the Year were selected based on a vote of the athletic department's head coaches.
Paavola named Female Athlete of the Year
All-everything senior softball pitcher Karina Paavola is Linfield College's Female Athlete of the Year for 2013-14. Paavola was selected to receive the athletic department's top honor following a vote of head coaches.
“Karina had a pretty dominating year,” said her coach, Jackson Vaughan, understating the obvious.
The right-handed windmiller led the Northwest Conference in wins (19), strikeouts (175), shutouts (5) and ERA (1.30).
Paavola played some of her finest softball in Linfield's biggest games. She pitched the Wildcats to victories over No. 5 East Texas Baptist and No. 9 Texas-Tyler during a spring break trip to Texas.
A two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American and a three-time all-West Region honoree, Paavola expanded her repertoire to become an even more unstoppable force during her senior season.
“Karina was our go-to pitcher all year long,” said Vaughan. “She really developed a lot as a pitcher and learned to throw more off-speed stuff and the drop ball which she didn't have early in her career. Adding those elements to her game really completed her as a pitcher.”
During her senior season, she established new career records for pitching victories (73) and appearances (113) while finishing second all-time for shutouts (15), strikeouts (550) and opponent batting average (.198).
“She's pitched a lot of big games for us over the course of her career, not just her senior year,” said Vaughan.
In addition to her glossy statistics, Paavola took on more of a leadership role during 2014, helping the Wildcats to a 34-9 overall record as well as the program's 11th straight NWC championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III regional playoffs.
“In terms of leadership, pitchers are always different because they serve a specialized role,” said Vaughan. “Karina really did the best job of her career this year in embracing a leadership role. She did a lot of the little things that aren't necessarily fun but that help practices running smoothly.”
Paavola will graduate June 1 with a bachelor's degree in business management. She already lined up her first professional opportunity with Ringor, a Wilsonville-based manufacturer of softball cleats and apparel. She'll begin in a merchandising sales position with the opportunity to contribute her softball acumen toward product development.