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Win or lose, PHU's Hofer on tap for star treatment

By BOB PUTNAM
Published July 12, 2005


ESPY AWARDS

WHEN: Sunday, 9 p.m., ESPN

HOFER'S COMPETITION

CYNTHIA BARBOZA, SR., VOLLEYBALL: An outside hitter at Woodrow Wilson Classical High in Long Beach, Calif., Barboza was the national volleyball player of the year last season and was chosen as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team as a junior. She continued to dominate as a senior, leading her team to the state final. She will play for UCLA this fall.

BRITTANY DANIELS, SR., TRACK: A jumper from Merrill F. West High in Tracy, Calif., Daniels leaped 44 feet, 113/4 inches in the triple jump at the USA Jr. National Championships last year, shattering the 19-year-old American Junior record by 9 inches. She also won three straight state titles in the triple jump and currently owns the top five high school distances in the triple jump.

AMY RODRIGUEZ, SR., SOCCER: A forward from Santa Margarita Catholic in Lake Forest, Calif., Rodriguez's senior season didn't last long. That's because she was called up to the U.S. Women's National Team for the Algarve Cup in Portugal. In the fall she helped lead the U.S. under-19 national team to a bronze medal at the FIFA U-19 World Championship in Thailand. She will play for Southern California.

ABBY WANER, SR., BASKETBALL: The sharpshooting guard from ThunderRidge High in Highlands Ranch, Colo., led her team to three state titles and was twice named the state's player of the year. She will spend the summer in Tunisia, where she will be a starter on the USA Basketball Under-19 World Championship team. She will join sister Emily at Duke this fall.

The Hurricanes ace, who is in the running for national athlete of the year, will walk the red carpet and dine with pros while in L.A. for the ESPYS.

Palm Harbor University's Dani Hofer was supposed to take a break from her whirlwind summer this week.

Hofer, a right-hander who led the Hurricanes to consecutive Class 5A state softball titles, had booked a seven-day, seven-night cruise through the Caribbean with family and friends as part of a graduation present.

But three weeks ago, she backed out of the trip after finding out she was one of five finalists for the Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year award.

Hofer will fly to Los Angeles today to attend the ESPY Awards. She and the other nominees will be honored before the awards ceremony on Wednesday.

"I was looking forward to going on the cruise," Hofer said. "But that's okay. I didn't mind canceling to go to something like this."

Hofer became a nominee after finishing her career with 1,163 strikeouts, while walking 11 and compiling an ERA of 0.14. Her 13 perfect games rank fourth in national prep softball history.

Her recent heroics received unprecedented attention, culminating last month with an appearance on ESPN2's Cold Pizza and being named Gatorade's National Softball Player of the Year.

Days later, Gatorade representatives took Hofer, along with family and friends, to Ruth's Chris Steak House to tell her about the trip to Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Hofer will attend a luncheon emceed by ESPN's Stuart Scott and attended by professional athletes Peyton Manning, Mia Hamm, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and Lisa Leslie.

After the luncheon, all nominees will walk the red carpet at the ESPY Awards and be honored during the telecast (which airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPN).

Past female winners include track star Allyson Felix in 2003 and basketball standout Candace Parker last year.

"It's been a crazy couple of months," Hofer said. "After this, I think I'll be able to relax."