Welcome, friends! Please meet the latest class of Unsung Seniors, Collegiate athletes who represented their teams with distinction during the spring season but did so beneath the radar.
For most of her four years as a varsity-level distance runner, Madeleine Watkins
was anything but unsung as she earned numerous All-League of Independent Schools and All-VISAA honors and achieved personal best times of 5:43 in the 1600 and 11:45 in the 3200. In her final season, though, a stress fracture in her left foot and pain in both shins limited her training. Undaunted, she persevered, cross trained, maintained her focus, and gutted her way to third-place finishes in the 3200 in both the league and state championship meets.
“Madeleine has served as one of the foundational members of the distance program during her high school years,” said Coach Matthew Richardson. “She is a steely eyed, hard-working, committed runner. She challenged herself and her teammates to be at their very best each practice and race, yet she was never one to give up on a fellow runner when things got tough.”
Clay Coleman competed with the distance contingent as a junior and senior and served as a captain this year in cross country as well as winter and spring track. He ended his career with personal best times of 2:20 in the 800 and 5:19 in the 1600.
“As a captain, Clay was an integral member of our team,” Richardson said. “His work ethic combined with his welcoming personality allowed many athletes to find their athletic home on the track team. Clay is a dedicated distance runner, who understands how to compete with himself every day in order to make himself and the team better.”
In her third varsity lacrosse season, Eliza Howard was a starting defender and captain for the 18-6 Cougars, the LIS runner-up and VISAA semifinalist.
“Eliza is the epitome of a behind-the-scenes player,” said Coach Caitlin Brooks. “She was instrumental in ensuring that everything ran as it should from practices, to team-building events, to games. She organized equipment for every game and made sure we had the necessary items for warm-ups. She held her teammates accountable. She did all this without ever asking for recognition, but her coaches and teammates would have been lost without her support.”
Will Hutchins played varsity baseball for four years and shared the Cougars’ state championship experience in 2015. A right handed pitcher, he had a 4-1 record with two saves in 41 innings during his career.
“Hutch led our pitchers daily in their arm care and throwing progressions,” said Coach Andrew Slater of Hutchins’ contributions in his final season. “He provided a great example of detail and hard work on a daily basis. He was a great teammate and a selfless energy guy. He had a great understanding of his role and always put the team and program first.”
Anne Mason Ruth played forward on Collegiate’s girls varsity soccer squad the past two springs, and with her spirit and enthusiasm she helped the Cougars earn a 32-5-3 record, the 2019 LIS title, and back-to-back VISAA championships.
“Anne Mason brought incredible warmth and positivity to our team,” said Coach Rob Ukrop. “She was beloved by her teammates as she consistently lifted them up in training and during games. Most importantly, Anne Mason embraced her role as a leader of the ‘bench mafia’ that was a critical part of our team’s success.”
Josh Van De Putte competed on the varsity golf team as a junior and senior. During that time, he impressed his teammates with his friendliness, spirit, and selfless approach to practice and matches.
“Josh was the guy that everyone wanted to play with during practice rounds,” said Coach Jeff Dunnington. “He was there on a regular basis over the past two years, even when he was not in the lineup, cheering on his teammates, all while taking care of school work, holding several different jobs, and earning his pilot's license. He was the ultimate team guy who others, young and old alike, wanted to be around.”
Josh Spivey, a two-season varsity lacrosse veteran, began his career as a midfielder but switched to defense in his final spring. The VISAA indoor 500 champ and Prep League runner-up this past winter, he used his speed, toughness, and never-quit mentality to achieve a stat line that read 51 ground balls, seven deflected passes, 11 caused turnovers, and three goals.
“When Josh realized that our returning defensemen Owen Riddle and Charles Geho were out for the season with injuries, he volunteered to switch positions,” said Coach Andrew Stanley. “By doing so, he gave up a chance for offensive stats and glory to help solidify our defense.”
Charlie Willard played varsity tennis for three years and in 2018 won the Prep League title at No. 6 singles during the Cougars’ league and state title run. In his final season, he amassed a 10-2 record playing as high as No. 5 singles and 9-0 at No. 2, 3, and 4 doubles.
“Being in the moment and rising to the occasion were things you could count on from Charlie,” said Coach Karin Whitt. “He never took anything too seriously and was always quick with a smile, but don't be fooled. Underneath he was giving 100 percent effort, fighting until the very end, and inspiring his teammates.”
-- Weldon Bradshaw