Athlete of the Month: Will Hare ’18

photo by Sofia Manekia

Considered an average runner at the start of his PHS career, Mercer County Tournament champion Will Hare ’18 embodies hard work and, as a Philadelphia 76ers fan, believing in the process.

After his three-year cross country experience at Princeton Charter School as a middle schooler, Hare has been running for PHS for all three seasons since his freshman year. He started with the cross country team under former Head Coach Mark Shelley. Hare’s own process began with a rough freshman season from which, based on his times and attitude, many people would not have been able to predict his later success.

“Freshman year, one of the other assistant coaches wanted to kick me off the team. I was so annoying,” said Hare, “I didn’t really know what it meant to be on a high school team. That was an adjustment I had to make.”

Head Coach James Smirk made a similar observation about Hare during his freshman season.

“Will, as a freshman, was a good kid but unremarkable as a runner,” said Smirk. “If you were to look at him as a freshman and say, ‘where do you think he’s going to be as a senior?’, I’m not sure anybody would have predicted [this].”

As far as overcoming the slump of his freshman season, Hare describes most of his obstacles as mental blocks that he conquered with determination and a change in attitude.

“Once I figured out [running] was something I had a passion for and wanted to do seriously, I spent a lot of time on it, even when it wasn’t paying off,” said Hare, “I kept working at it and eventually, with the amount of work I put in … something good [came] of it.”

Since his first season on the team, Hare’s favorite memories are the climactic highlights of his successful run with the cross country team.

“Making [Meet of Champions] my sophomore year as a team … that was something we hadn’t done in 30 years,” said Hare, “[and] winning the state championship … that was something we’d never done.”

Over the course of his entire PHS career, Hare has had at least nine coaches between cross country, winter track, and spring track. The two he feels most impacted him as a runner are Shelley and Smirk.

“Coach Shelley really got me started with the sport. He really emphasized the aspect of the team and getting better each day. He would always tell us that the process is the goal and that was something that really resonated with [me],” said Hare, “[Coach Smirk] showed me how to be a really good runner and showed me how to commit to a sport and do all the little things right on top of the running aspect.”

One of the three boys captains for the cross country team, Hare has also exhibited important leadership qualities that help the team to run smoothly.

“Will’s not afraid to talk about his process and what you have to do to put in the work to be successful,” said Delaney, “he’s made it clear to everybody that we can’t just trot up to the line in our blue uniforms like we could last year and take everybody by storm.”

At the end of his PHS career and on the eve of his college career at University of Pennsylvania, Hare reflects on the lessons he’s learned and the difficulties he’s faced on his way to his senior year.

“When you see a certain [goal] in your future and then you don’t hit that [goal] … you start to think that might be my limit” said Hare, “[Learn] to not limit yourself [and] to believe that whatever you want to do you can do.”

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