Sports fans love to debate the relative merits of contemporary players as well as players from different eras. The liveliest of these debates was the Snyder-Mantle-Mays discussions that dominated the streets of New York in the 1950’s and continues among baseball aficionados today. Due to the detailed statistics being kept, generational comparisons are most common in baseball. There is, however, an occasional argument heard among fans in other sports. Who was the best, Jim Brown or Gale Sayers?
Was it Peyton Manning or John Elway? Man-o-War or Secretariat? Magic or Bird?
Each of us has our favorites and this columnist is no different. I believe Willie Mays to be the best player I have ever seen. During my formative years, Sandy Koufax was unbelievably dominant. I’ve never seen a player like Jim Brown. There is no doubt in my mind that Johnny Unitas was the greatest ever. Dick Butkus was the supreme defender of his or any era. Dr. J set the standard for the modern basketball player. I witnessed the great Wayne Gretsky do things on the ice that I can still not fathom.
We are fortunate when we are able to see an athlete in person that performs at a level that is so dominant that it makes our collective heads spin. This spring, we don’t have to go too far in seeing two young athletes that are doing things at their level that have never been done before in our readership area.
Down the road at Matoaca Middle School, Collin Hahn is burning up the track. With a combination of talent and incredible work ethic, Collin is setting records that in some cases date back nearly 30 years. His recent 10:07 in the 3200 meters is a full 21 seconds faster than any middle school athlete has ever run in Chesterfield County. One should keep in mind that track records are usually broken by mere tenths of seconds when trying to comprehend what Collin has done. He has also run a 4:45 mile and a 2:09 over 800 meters. Collin will complete his middle school career at the Chesterfield County meet on Wednesday, May 4 at L.C. Bird.
Collin began his athletic career playing football, basketball and baseball. Baseball was his best sport and as a result, he began to play travel ball. “I grew to hate the fact that baseball was dominating my life,” he said. “I try to prioritize God, family, school, and then running,” he added. Hahn turned to serious running just last year and has proven to be unbeatable.
Respectful of the history of his sport, Collin emulates the great Steve Prefontane. He goes out fast and tries to dominate his competition from the start. He admires Alan Webb, a fellow Virginian who was the best high-school miler of all time. Although Webb’s 3:53 is in Collin’s sights, “I would just love to break the four-minute barrier,” said Collin. He will continue his high school career at Midlothian, where he will be a part of the IB program.
At Thomas Dale, Lacey Waldrop has been dominating the softball diamond for four years. She has earned all-district, all-metro, all-region, and all-state recognition. Dale has come up just short in their pursuit of a state championship in each of Lacey’s first three seasons, but she thinks this may be the year of the Knight. “We have been working very hard this year. I myself have been working on throwing harder and hitting my spots.” She realizes that this will be the key for her future success.
Lacey speaks highly of her teammates and her coaches. “We love Coach (Dennis) Jones. He is extremely competitive, but also encourages us to have fun. Coach (Scott) Wilson has a tremendous mind for the game,” she added.
Although Lacey has other interests, she can’t get enough softball. “I just love the game!” she said.
Waldrop carries a 3.9 GPA and ranks in the top 10% of her class. She will be attending Florida State University in the fall as a scholarship athlete. She hopes to study Marine Biology and Journalism. Her softball goals are to take her team to the College World Series.
Lacey will certainly be leading Thomas Dale into the post season later this month, with hopes of moving forward in regional and state play.
Right here and right now, we are witnessing a middle school distance runner and a high school pitcher who are arguably the best we have ever seen at their prospective levels. Don’t miss a chance to see them light it up before it’s too late.