These beloved Washington, DC athletes are well worth the price of admission.
Sports fans adore when an entire team works together to accomplish a common goal, as the Washington Capitals did in winning the 2018 Stanley Cup. But seeing a superstar show off his or her tremendous skill in an individual feat of glory can also leave a lasting memory. Fortunately, DC has plenty of standout athletes that could make your day or evening with a head-spinning goal, basket, pitch or home run. Here are just a few.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
There’s an argument to be made that Alex Ovechkin (affectionately known as “Ovi” around these parts) is the greatest athlete to ever represent the nation’s capital. He is the active NHL leader in goals (640), almost 100 ahead of his closest competitor. He’s the Capitals’ all-time leader in points, goals, games played and shots. The winger brought the franchise its first Stanley Cup ever and the first sports championship since D.C. United's MLS Cup in 2004. Ovechkin is still going strong, too: he’s leading the NHL in goals this season. There will be a statue of this future Hall of Famer in the District when his playing days are through. See him in action while you can.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Holtbeast. The Great Wall of Chinatown. Braden Holtby has earned these monikers through his outstanding goaltending for the Caps since stepping into a full-time role in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Vezina Trophy (awarded to the league’s best goalie) winner for the 2015-16 season, Holtby manned the net for every one of Washington’s 16 wins on their way to a Stanley Cup in 2018. His athleticism, quickness and puck-handling skills at the goalie position are a joy to behold.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
With John Wall lost for the season due to injury, Bradley Beal is now the undeniable leader of the Wizards. The shooting guard is in the midst of his best season yet, averaging career-highs in points (nearly 25 per game), rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. After making his first NBA All-Star Game appearance last year, Beal is well-deserving of another nod. His sharp-shooting skills and cunning moves to the basket will make your jaw drop.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer is arguably the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, a force to be reckoned with when he takes the mound. Loveably known as “Mad Max” for his incredible intensity during his starts, the 34-year old has brought DC baseball fans nothing but joy since signing with the Nationals before the 2015 season. That year, he pitched two no-hitters. In 2016 and 2017, Scherzer won the National League Cy Young award (given to the league’s best pitcher) and led the Nats to back-to-back division titles. In 2018, he led the league in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, hitting the 300 mark for the season, a rarity in today’s game. A Max Scherzer start is one of the best experiences in DC sports, so take advantage in 2019.
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
This 20-year old phenom is the present and future of the Washington Nationals organization. Juan Soto began the 2018 season playing in Single-A ball, the lowest rung of the minor leagues, in order to hone his skills and eventually make his way to the big-league club. A rash of injuries led to a surprise call-up of the then-19-year-old Soto to the Nats in May ... and he never looked back. The outfielder accomplished feats that few (if any) teenagers had ever accomplished in Major League Baseball, finishing the season with 22 home runs, 25 doubles and a .406 on-base percentage. Although he did not win the coveted Rookie of the Year award for the National League, there are plenty of accolades in Soto’s future. Watch for Soto’s outstanding batting eye, a trait that very few players have at such a young age.
Wayne Rooney, D.C. United
After a legendary career in the English Premier League, Wayne Rooney signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Major League Soccer’s (MLS) D.C. United last June. Rooney arrived in the District mid-season to much fanfare, but few expected what happened next. The last-place United completely turned their season around, as Rooney led the squad on an improbable run to the MLS Cup Playoffs, netting 12 goals in just 21 matches. After that impressive sprint to the postseason, expectations are high for United in 2019, which will be their first full season in their gorgeous new stadium, Audi Field.
Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
The 6’5” forward/center for the Washington Mystics is one of the best players in the WNBA. Elena Delle Donne completely transformed the Mystics upon her arrival before the 2017 season. The Wilmington, Del. native had already won the WNBA MVP award in 2015 while playing for the Chicago Sky, just one part of the impressive resume that she brought to Washington. In her two years with the Mystics, the team has won four playoff rounds after winning one in their previous 19 years of existence. After a disappointing loss to the Seattle Storm in the 2018 WNBA Finals, Delle Donne and the squad look to come back with a vengeance in 2019, when they’ll play their home games at the Entertainment and Sports Arena for the first time. Buckle up.