When Reese Hoffa was moving up the ranks in track and field competition as a University of Georgia student, he acquired two things: a streak of four consecutive All-American honors in the shot put event - and a nickname.
The Unknown Shot Putter.
So much for that nickname.
The sports world knows who this 1997 Lakeside High School graduate is now. Hoffa won the shot put at the recent world track and field championships in Osaka, Japan, and he likely is one of the United States' best hopes for a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in Beijing.
On the field, it's clear that Hoffa is all business and competition-driven. But he also revels in the quirky antics that many sports fans love to see in their favorite athletes - for example, his penchant for running victory laps while clutching a U.S. flag in one hand and a cooked turkey leg in the other.
Perhaps more remarkable than Hoffa's long list of athletic accomplishments are his inner struggles as a child, raised by a loving adoptive family, who found true closure to a chapter in his life by finding and joyfully reconnecting with his birth mother years later. Writer Amy Shipley of The Washington Post profiled the shot putter in a moving 2005 feature story that everyone should read.
Hoffa's life story - his triumphs on and off the field - is a poignant reminder of the simultaneous frailty and indomitability of the human spirit.
The CSRA should be proud to claim him as one of our brightest stars.
And we can't wait unti 2012.