by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Samantha Hare + Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
They say it goes to too fast. The first time you put on those cleats, and tried on that glove, it just seems like yesterday. Playing the game for fun, loving the game for what it is - and was.
It’s what dreams are made off.
In a blink of eye, those days as a little girl stepping up to the plate for the first time are a distance memory. Trying on that first glove is a thing of the past. The time as flown by, but the love of the game is still the same as it was when you were 5 years old.
Memories are what makes the game special. The bond that players have with each other as they come together for one purpose - to win a championship. It’s time that players can’t get back. It’s a time that player cherish as they move on in their careers.
As a senior season was wiped away, Mount St. Mary Academy softball player Samantha Hare was able to look back fondly at everything that she accomplished while at the school. A three-sport star, Hare as memories when every sport she played, softball, volleyball and indoor track and field.
It’s a time that she knows she won’t be able to get. With one eye on the past, Hare also has one eye on the future - and is excited what the fixture may bring.
“Over my four years at the Mount, I have been impacted by so many great coaches, teachers, and teammates who have shaped me into the person I am today. I was given the opportunity to discover the kind of person I wanted to be through challenging academic courses, service opportunities, and competitive athletics, all three of which are very important to me,” stated Hare. “I believe that I have developed into a true leader, and the support that I received from everyone at the Mount led me to be able to really challenge myself and reach my goals in becoming a better student, better athlete, and better person.”
While her four years are up at the Mount, Hare already knows what her future will hold - well at least the immediate future. Hare will take her softball talents to Niagara University. There she will continue to play the game she loves, while obtaining a great education.
Unlike other student-athletes who commit to play a sport early, Hare was a late commit. The young lady wanted to make sure she found the right school for her to continue her education and still play softball at the highest level.
Being able to play at Niagara allows her to do both. She is part of an up and coming program that last season made a run through the MAAC Championship. Hare will also be a part of a team that has a local flare to it.
“ I did commit a little bit later than most athletes do, but I made sure that I was making the right decision not only for athletics, but academics as well. I have always held myself to a high standard in both athletics and academics, and in the end, I knew that Niagara would challenge me in both aspects of my life. I also have played softball all my life, and knowing that I won’t always be able to play this game that I love, I wanted to play at the highest level these next four years, and so I am super excited that Niagara was able to give me this opportunity,” stated Hare. “For me, Niagara has always been a place that has hit close to home, being that my older sister, Jen Hare, played softball for the Purple Eagles a few years back. She’s been a role model for me in all aspects of life, and she has really pushed me to my greatest potential and made me realize that I’ve always wanted to have that DI experience.”
Being a role model is something that Hare took on while at the Mount. Hare always wanted to be that player that the younger players could look up to. You could say she was groomed to be the leader that she is today from the very first time she stepped on the campus of the Kenmore school.
Hare always looked up to the upperclassmen, even when she was a freshman. She wanted to soak it all in, so when it was her turn, she was ready to lead from the start. That’s exactly what Hare did.
You can tell when Hare is out there, she is a very vocal leader on the field. Hare makes sure she leads by example, and the younger girls can next notice by how she acts on and at off the field.
“Being a leader on the Mount team stemmed from the upperclassmen that I looked up to when I was a freshman, and ever since then I’ve always wanted to be that person for my other teammates,” stated Hare. “During games and practices when our coaches tell us to do something, I am vocal on the field, no matter what position I may be playing, or by cheering on my teammates from the bench. Communication is a key component in the game of softball, and I ensure that in each drill we do at practice or in every situation in a game that we are always talking to each other.”
Hare’s leadership just wasn’t on the field, but in the classroom as well. She will be the first one to tell you that being a student-athlete is not an easy task. Being successful in the classroom is just as important at being successful on the field.
In fact, being successful in the classroom can translate to the field in many aspects. The hard work opening the books and studying can easy translate to the field. Most players will take the time to study pitchers and their tendencies.
At the end of the day, hard work pays offs.
“Being a student-athlete at the Mount, I have been challenged to become better in both aspects throughout my four years. I believe that being successful in the classroom transfers over into being successful in all aspects of life, including athletics. At Mount, I have been challenged with both AP and college courses, and being a three-sport athlete while maintaining first honors all four years, I have definitely learned how to manage my time,” stated Hare. “I have had coaches who always put academics first, and strive for greatness in both the classroom and on the field/court/track in all of my four years. The teachers also have understood how I strive to do well in both aspects of my life and have been great resources for me in these past four years”
As spring has turned into summer, everything is slowly starting to open up as life tries to get back to normal. This is an extremely important summer for Hare as he gets ready for her freshman year of college.
It’s even more important because their was no spring high school season. Even though most schools only play 14-18 games during the spring, it’s still a chance to get your timing down as a hitter, or work on your pitches.
Hare wasn’t able to do either. Now she will have to cram in a couple months of work into about six weeks as she readies for fall ball when she steps on campus.
“Due to the loss of this spring season, I am certainly hopeful that I will be able to hone in on my skills this summer with my travel team before stepping into college ball in the fall. The assistant coach at Niagara happens to be my travel coach, and many of the girls on my travel team play at Niagara or other DI schools in the area, so I am excited to be able to get some work in with them before this fall,” stated Hare. “I have been doing as much as I can at home to stay prepared for the season, but just getting back into a team dynamic and real live games will definitely be beneficial before heading into the fall season. For me, I feel that I need to work on hitting now and throughout the summer months in order to contribute right away as a freshman on a DI team. Also, staying sharp on the situations of the game, both offensive and defensively, will help me be a better player so that I can contribute in any way the coaches need me to at Niagara.”
Staying sharp mentally is just as important as staying physically fit. Hare is used to the mental aspect of the game, and not just in softball. Being able to play three sports at a high level has taught her that she needs to be mentally fit to be able to compete on the volleyball court, softball diamond or track and field.
There are things you can control, but usually in sports you can’t control everything. Whether it’s paying third base, pitching, or trying to get the big hit to win the game, Hare makes sure she is in the right frame of mind.
When she is standing in that batters box she had a plan. Depending on the situation, Hare knows what she wants to do when he gets up to bat. She knows what she is looking for. It’s just making the little adjustments as the game goes on.
“In softball, the mental game is just as important as the physical part of the game. Over the years, I have developed into a smarter ball player, knowing each situation and what I can do in that moment to help them team. When I’m in the on deck circle, I’m always thinking about how many outs there are, where the runners are on base, and the pitch sequence of the pitcher,” stated Hare. “When up to bat, say there’s a runner on third. Here, I am looking for an outside pitch to drive to the right side of the field in order for the runner on third to score. If there’s two outs, trying to keep the ball on the ground, and if none or only one out, a sac fly would also score the runner. Pitch selection and knowing how to adjust my hands and stance in even the slightest ways in order to advance runners and do my job in each situation is what has made me a smarter and better hitter.”