Sure, game-winning plays and record-breaking performances are easy to remember. But there are plenty of moments that transcend the outcome on the playing field that are worth another look.

The 2017 calendar year was chock full of feel-good moments across college athletics. With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to revisit some of the most memorable examples that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

An emotional Senior Day for Drake’s Jacob Enevold

It’s a long way from Lunderskov, Denmark to Des Moines, Iowa. But the parents of former Drake basketball player Jacob Enevold made the 4,300-mile trek for an unforgettable Senior Day surprise. As Enevold was being honored before Drake’s home game on Feb. 25 of last season, the center’s parents caught him off guard when they walked onto the court to join in the festivities. Enevold’s reaction was priceless.

A sibling reunion at Sacred Heart

Surprise visits from family members are always special, as was the case in February when former Sacred Heart women’s hockey player Teagan Ketchum was reunited with brother Trevor for the first time in 14 months due to his deployment.  Lined up with her teammates before a game against Franklin Pierce, Teagan was shocked to see Trevor walk out of the tunnel to perform a ceremonial puck drop. It doesn’t get better than this.

Eron Harris enters one last time for Sparty

Michigan State’s Eron Harris did not expect to see any game action for his Senior Day last Feb. 26, considering his season-ending knee injury left him in a bulky brace. But in the final minute of an 84-74 upset over Wisconsin, coach Tom Izzo called a timeout and inserted Harris into the game to a thunderous ovation from fans. As fans stood to acknowledge Harris’ MSU career, he lowered himself down to the ground to kiss the half-court Spartans logo.

Karnowski gets to play in front of father at Final Four

One special figure was in attendance last April in Phoenix to see former Gonzaga star Przemek Karnowski celebrate a trip to the program’s first national championship game. Bonifacy Karnowski, Przemek’s father, traveled nearly 6,000 miles from Poland to Phoenix to see his son score 13 points as the Bulldogs put away South Carolina 77-73 in the semifinals. “I’m very happy. It’s a great moment for Gonzaga, for Przemek, for Polish supporters, because Polish television make a direct transmission from here. The whole country is watching. First time in history,” Bonifacy told our Mike Lopresti.

Ohio State superfan scores special TD in spring game

Ohio State fan Jacob Jarvis, 17, had the play of the day during the Buckeyes’ spring game last April. Jarvis, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, has served as an inspiration to his beloved Buckeyes since 2014-15, the same season that OSU took home the CFP trophy. His involvement in the program was on full display in front of the 80,000 fans in attendance for Ohio State’s 2017 spring game. For the final play of the day, Jarvis entered the game, received a handoff from J.T. Barrett and coasted into the end zone for a Scarlet touchdown. The whole team then rallied around him to celebrate for one of the top moments of the spring.

Nebraska spring game reunites family

Spring game surprises did not end in Columbus. Over in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Cornhuskers took part in Staff sergeant Matthew Hawke’s special reunion with his wife and kids after he served 10 months in Afghanistan. Hawke suited up in a Nebraska jersey, pads and helmet and walked to midfield to participate in the coin toss, where his family served as honorary officials. Hawke then took off his helmet and reconnected with his family in a touching moment.

An unforgettable first pitch for Arizona

Arizona softball player Ashleigh Hughes was treated with a similar surprise moments before an April 21 home game against Oregon. Her brother Raynard, a senior airman who Ashleigh hadn’t seen in two years, walked onto the field to deliver the first pitch. The two embraced in the pitcher’s circle before the Wildcats took the field in a 2-0 win. These types of moments never get old.

BC’s Cortez wins it for her father

This story’s straight out of a Hollywood script, or so it seems. Former BC softball player Tatiana Cortez closed out her Senior Day last May with a dramatic walk-off homer against NC State. Meanwhile, her father, a Houston police officer, was 1,600 miles away in a hospital recovering from a gunshot wound that he suffered two months prior. While Ronny, Tatiana’s father, couldn’t be in attendance, more than 100 Boston-area police officers showed up for support, along with her mother. “I don’t think I’ve ever given my mom a bigger hug. An emotional hug. I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” she told Lopresti.

Oklahoma rounds bases with moms after huge win

Oklahoma baseball’s Steele Walker, JB Olson and Connor Berry gave their mothers a very special Mother’s Day present on May 14 following a big win over Big 12 rival TCU. The day started with Austin O’Brien securing a Sooners win with a game-winning single over the then-No. 6 Horned Frogs. To celebrate, the trio of Sooners invited their moms onto the field to round the bases with them. What a great gift. 

Barnes fulfills promise to attend Ford’s graduation

Former Wooden Award winner T.J. Ford went down as a Longhorns legend for his two years in Austin. Now, he’s officially a graduate from the University of Texas. Fourteen years after leaving early for the NBA, Ford walked at UT’s 2017 graduation in May with a degree in applied learning and development. And former coach Rick Barnes, now coaching Tennessee, was in attendance. “I’m so happy for him. Proud is an understatement, but he deserves it more than anybody,” said an emotional Barnes after the ceremony.

Gales walks for first time after being paralyzed in 2015

Former Southern wide receiver Devon Gales’ football career was ended abruptly in 2015 after a kickoff collision against Georgia left him paralyzed from the waist down. But this past May, Gales made a major step in his recovery when he posted a video of him walking for the first time since the hit. Gales has continued to progress, and in August, he released another video of him playing catch with a football.

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