The Ultimate Dream

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: July 17, 2008

MARYLAND – Tracy Belton has been told about his father’s athletic ability. His grandfather, James “Stuff” Hamilton, starred in track and baseball at Fairmount Heights High, and in the Tri- State Baseball League.

The previous generations of the Hamilton’s took advantage of an opportunity, and passed on the torch, to a multifaceted athlete seeking the ultimate opportunity — an NFL contract.

Darryl Hamilton introduced his son to football at age six as he represented the Kettering/Largo Cougars. Year after year, according Diron Fisher, a friend of the family, Tracy excelled.

During his senior year at Largo High, the Lions assembled one of the best defensive secondary units in the state.”Tracy’s a player you dream about, and he could play free safety, strong safety and corner,” says Raymond Crawford, the Lions defensive back coach.

When Tracy was a senior, the secondary had 22 interceptions. His high school football career concluded with an Super 45 All-Star game invitation between Maryland vs. Virginia at Centreville High School.

A lackluster junior year, and late looks from colleges, then head coach Eric Wade at Largo High, contacted Fork Union Military Academy. “With Tracy’s incredible football knowledge, along with a dynamite senior year, an added year of exposure for colleges to see him was my intent,” says Wade.

Ironically, a Fork Union coach informed Tracy by telephone that he couldn’t guarantee him any playing time. “I told the coach that I’m going to play,” Tracy told BASN.

The Washington Post’s All-Metro Honorable Mention selection played in front of 22 other All-Americans at Fork Union in 2002. Some of them would later sign with Alabama and Arkansas. Under the tutelage of Coach John Shuman, Tracy recorded six interceptions and two punt returns for touchdowns.

In 2003, he enrolled at the University of Massachusetts.The 6-foot, 175-pound defensive back started after the fourth game. He recorded a total of 33 tackles, including 20 solo stops, four interceptions and six break ups.”I forewarn people, don’t let my size fool you,” Tracy uttered.

Displaying a competitive spirit and good footwork, he made second team All-American as a sophomore with 57 tackles (49 solos) and five interceptions as the Minute Men were Atlantic-10 Conference Champs. What gets Tracy’s adrenalin flowing is a vicious hit or running an interception back for a score.

On November 5, 2005, against the University of Delaware, UMass won, 35-7. Tracy picked off his 10th career interception and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown in front of his family.

Tracy’s father heard about the run back from afar while he was coaching a football game in Maryland. Tracy does admit, “I’m not as fast as my father, but I’m fast.”

Lavata Wood enjoys watching her grandson entertain.”He’s a good player, like his father always in sports,” said the retired 42-year educator.

During his junior season, Tracy made 60 tackles and Honorable Mention All-American. Even though, he loves to smother the receivers like a blanket, he earned countless on the field feats at UMass. Minutes before the storm, one unforgettable performance came to mind.

While racking up eight tackles against the University of New Hampshire, on November 4, 2006, the defensive back coach assigned Tracy to cover All-American wideout David Boone.

“This is how you step up by checking Ball,” the coach stated. The Atlantic 10 first team defensive back nominee held Ball, now with the Chicago Bears, to two catches for 32 yards.

“Tracy has tremendous wing span, plays over 6 foot tall, his strength and transition movement is great,” says UMass head coach Don Brown.

In his final collegiate year, the quarterbacks decided to throw away from the Don Hansen’s Honorable Mention All American, who posted two interceptions, 11 pass break ups and 85 tackles.

Following graduation, Tracy received an offer to coach at UMass.However, the Landover, Maryland native chose to pursue his dream — the NFL. Coach Brown set the stage. He notified Rob Green, an defensive back coach for the Arkansas Twisters, of the Arena Football League II.

Growing up, Tracy marveled at Deion Sanders.Now, the opponents and fans are mesmerized by his potential.With a couple of regular season indoor games remaining, the central division Twisters (9 -4) are playoff bound.

Tracy leads the Twisters in interceptions and pass break ups. He’s seventh in the league in pass break ups, with six interceptions. Coach Green gives the rookie an A+.

“Tracy has the physical tools to be in the NFL right now,” Green said. In a recent 66-54 win against the defending AF2 champions, Tulsa Talons, coach Mitch Allner, remembers Belton. “He’s a good ball player, the leader of their team, and third in team tackles,” Allner verified.

A student of the game, Belton spends his time off the field studying film, lifting weights, running while acquiring the proper rest. He bench presses 275 and runs a 4.5 in the 40, not the fastest on the team, but the smartest.

Thus far, the Chicago Bears and New York Jets have conveyed words of encouragement.”I will do what they say and eventually an opportunity will exist,” Tracy believes.

The grandfather, now 70, is elated that his well mannered grandson is living his dream. From high school to prep school, to college and, in the pros, Tracy is getting better and better.

Before every game, his father calls the son to remind him of three things: play hard, be aggressive and good luck.With an opportunity, he’ll be in the big leagues one day,” the father envisions.

Many agree.

Photos courtesy of Robert Eubanks