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Beth Maiman | | December 23, 2016

Some of the best feel-good stories in college sports for 2016

As the new year rolls around, it's often a time to look back and reflect. 

So we decided to do the same, by taking a trip down memory lane of some of the best feel-good stories of the year in college sports. 

There were so many great and touching moments in 2016, but here (in no particular order) are some that we will remember as 2016 comes to a close. We picked 17 in honor of the new year ahead:

James Conner scores twice in return

Pittsburgh running back James Conner gave inspiration to many as he fought and eventually beat Hodgkin's lymphoma five months after being diagnosed. In the Panthers' home opener this season against Villanova, the crowd cheered for Conner and he tallied two touchdowns on the emotional day.

Florida State WR sits with a young boy at lunch

When Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph sat with a young autistic boy at lunch, it was simply an act of kindness. However, the moment and photo of the two eating a meal together went viral for the world to see. The young boy’s mother, Leah Paske, took to Facebook to share how special it was for her to see, while the young boy Bo and Rudolph continued their friendship even after the lunch date.

UCLA football signs 9-year-old with brain tumor

UCLA added one tough guy to its 2016 recruiting class this year, nine-year-old Cade Spinello. Spinello, who is battling a brain tumor, has long had a special connection with the Bruins program, as he has spent time with the team at their practices.

Oakland's Max Hooper's special Senior Night

Oakland senior Max Hooper shared a beautiful moment with his father, who was battling cancer when Oakland had its senior night back in February. At the end of the game, Hooper rushed up the stands to embrace his father who was in attendance. Max’s father, Chip, passed away in March.

Jim Harbaugh’s donation to ChadTough

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh donated all proceeds ($10,000) from a recent autograph signing to The ChadTough Foundation.The ChadTough Foundation is named after Chad Carr, grandson of former Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr, who passed away in 2015 due to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a form of cancer. The foundation’s goal is to raise awareness for the fight against DIPG.

Clemson pitcher records win after beating cancer 

Six months after his cancer went into remission, Clemson pitcher Clate Schmidt earned a win over Maine in his first outing back. Schmidt was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May 2015; he was told he was cancer free later that summer. Schmidt and Pittsburgh’s Conner even got a chance to meet and share a touching moment.

Minnesota’s Joey King’s emotional post game interview

After an upset win against Maryland, senior Joey King gave an emotional postgame interview in which he was brought to tears as he discussed what the game meant to the entire Minnesota basketball program.

UCLA’s Sophina DeJesus busts a move

There’s nothing like some impressive dance moves to put a smile on your face. UCLA senior gymnast Sophina DeJesus choreographed one incredible floor routine during the Bruins' meet back in February, which sent Pauley Pavilion into a roar with the great moves.

Kansas basketball shows support to Holly Rowe

During the men's game against Kansas State back in February, Jayhawks fans chanted for ESPN's Rowe and also brought signs in support of her. It was a great gesture for Rowe, who has publicly been fighting cancer while contining her work with ESPN. 

UCLA, Cal dancing in the rain

As we mentioned before, great dancing can bring a smile to anyone’s face. And that’s just want Cal and UCLA did when they took advantage of a rain delay back in March. Enjoy!

Amanda Kessel return

Amanda Kessel endured a long journey to finally get back to the ice after dealing with concussion like symptoms. Kessel found her way back to the ice and was able to help Minnesota win back-to-back national titles, even recording the game-tying goal in the semifinals against Wisconsin.

Tennessee's Josh Dobbs presents a boy with a special room

Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs came through for a young Vols fan, five-year-old AJ Cuskey, who is battling cancer. Dobbs teamed up with Special Spaces to help the young boy get a Vols-themed bedroom, and the wide receiver was there to greet him in his new space. Cuskey’s reaction is priceless and certainly makes our feel-good list.

Oklahoma softball's Kelsey Arnold gets to play for her father

Oklahoma shortstop Kelsey Arnold always wanted to play softball in college and her father, Darin Arnold, was always there to help. Darin Arnold lost his battle with leukemia on July 30, 2015, but not before getting to witness his daughter Kelsey's dream come to fruition.


Nick Saban, Alabama help West Virginia high schools affected by flooding

Alabama head football coach and West Virginia native Nick Saban asked football coaches from across Alabama to come together and help football teams in the West Virginia communities devastated by the flooding that hit the community in July. Saban gathered people and donations to help ensure high schools could still participate in the football season after the devastation.

USC's Adoree Jackson has his mom crash his interview

USC cornerback Adoree Jackson shared a special moment with his mother after USC's win against Utah State. Jackson's mother finally got to see her son play this season after battling breast cancer prior. The moment is touching, as she says how proud she was of her son. 

A holiday suprise for Notre Dame's Matt Farrell

Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell received an early Christmas present this week when his older brother Bo appeared on the jumbotron with a message for his brother. Then minutes later, Bo ran onto the court to hug his brother. It was a great moment and certainly was in the holiday spirit. 

Nebraska honors Sam Foltz, lines up with 10 men on first punt

Nebraska football honored its former punter Sam Foltz with a touching tribute on the Huskers' first punt of the season back in September. Foltz, who was 22 and preparing for his senior season at Nebraska, was one of two players killed in a car crash on July 23 along with Michigan State punter Mike Sadle. The Cornhuskers only sent out 10 players, leaving no one at the punter position. Nebraska took a delay of game penalty, which Fresno State respectfully declined. It was a beautiful moment to honor Foltz.

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