BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- In our new digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Eric Hare, a graduating senior football, basketball and track athlete at Sullivan East High School.
Unfortunately, injuries in sports are just part of the deal.
“If you think you’re gonna get hurt then you probably will but if you don’t and put that past you, you’ll be alright,” Sullivan East graduating senior Eric Hare said.
It’s how athletes deal with the adversity that comes with an injury; that’s what sets them apart.
“Because of what he’s been through, he can tackle just about anything that’s thrown at him,” former Sullivan East head football coach and current athletic director Michael Locke said.
That’s what set Eric Hare apart, after a devastating football injury as a sophomore for Sullivan East.
“I was going in to make a tackle and it was just kind of a gain tackle and all the weight came down on my foot and I just remember hearing a pop and I was laying there I couldn’t get back up and when I looked up my ankle was kinda in an L shape 90 degree dislocation,” Hare said.
“It was a terrible break at Johnson County, the ankle, one of those that you see where the foot is over sideways it was a very scary moment all of us would agree that went through it with him together but he came through it like a trooper,” Locke said.
Hare missed the rest of the football season, but was determined to rehab and try to come back for the end of the basketball season.
“I slowly started to recover and that gave me a ton of motivation to go out and give everything not take any days for granted,” Hare said.
It paid off in his first game back.
“My main goal was just to be able to play in one basketball game and I ended up getting to come back I actually ended up hitting a shot so I remember in that moment it kinda made everything worth it,” Hare said.
“That was so much fun and all the guys were so happy for Eric because he battled and battled and him being a sophomore his first time in a varsity game,” former Sullivan East head basketball coach John Dyer said.
Not only did he come back for the basketball season, but also ran track that spring.
“I did long jump and threw shot and would occasionally run my 100-meter dash or be in relays so basically a utility guy there put me in just about anything and say go do it I’ll be like ok I got you,” Hare said.
But the real test for him was coming back on the football field for the first time since the injury.
“Where I had the injury I kinda at first was a little bit cautious a bit nervous you know if I do go back out there I don’t want this to happen again but I just had to look past that and say the accident you had was kinda a freak accident,” Hare said.
Hare powered through, continuing to play all three sports, and has a special senior year in basketball, going out with longtime head coach John Dyer.
“Coach Dyer letting us know that he was gonna retire and I remember that just gave everybody on the team this motivation this is last year we gotta play for coach Dyer and so we got the shirt that says “4JD,” ‘For John Dyer,’ Hare said.
“Really neat, the first team I coached at East High School in 1988-89 his dad was a senior Hank Hare was a senior on that team and then to go out with Eric on my final team was a really special thing,” Dyer said.
Of the many things he learned in the last few years, this taught him to appreciate the little things.
“You never know when it might get taken from you so yeah it gave me a great appreciation for football and being able to play the game and never taking days off or taking advantage of the sport,” Hare said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.