Hayward Strong: The Schuyler Hall Story
Introducing Coach Schuyler Hall, Mt. Eden’s Cross Country & Track Coach.
In directing this piece for Melin’s storytelling series we were lucky to not only meet Coach Hall, but also witness him work. His familiar knowledge of his runners, their strengths, and intricacies, and how those traits benefitted the betterment of the team. As athletes arrived for practice, he greeted each of them with both the affable guise of a friend, and the poignant focus of a leader.
Schuyler keeps his finger on the pulse of the team. Aware of both the singular individual goals, along with the overall goals of his group of runners. What’s the sweet spot? Right in the middle, where individual goals raise the level of the team, and the well-functioning team offers stability and competition for the individual.
Is everyone on the team going to run collegiately? Probably not. But that doesn’t change the here and the now for the tutelage between Coach Hall and his runners. That’s because running, unlike nearly any other sport, does not keep score. It is both sport, and hobby, both competitive, and cathartic. Cue the metaphor, but running is one foot in front of the other, a movement through time and space, a journey both mentally and physically.
At the very bottom of this piece are three nonprofit organizations in the world of running that are using the sport as a positive framework to build stronger individuals and communities. Please check each of them out and consider donating your time or resources to keep them going.
Stand anywhere in Hayward and look out across the San Francisco Bay… you’ll fix your eyes on the metropolis of downtown San Francisco. A quick 40-minute BART ride (Bay Area Rapid Transit) connects the two places although at times, the distance between them can seem intangibly further.
Hayward is a town of the people. Well populated at 170,000 and boasting the second-most diverse population in California, Hayward’s foundation is built on tolerance, family, and taking pride in one’s work. You can see why it’s been nicknamed, “The Heart of the Bay.”
Schuyler Hall is a born and raised, proud product of Hayward and a Mt. Eden High School alum. Fall of his freshman year, he joined up with the boys Cross Country team and thus, his running career began as a Monarch.
“Keep a kid busy, and you’ll keep him out of trouble.” Sage advice, and for good reason. It worked on plenty of us, and it worked for Schuyler. He immersed himself in his miles, his job, and his grades. Rinse, repeat. While his peers and some of his friends were headed sideways, Schuyler kept moving forward. Little did he know, he was laying the groundwork he’d make a lifestyle out of in college, and beyond.
Schuyler graduated, and by way of academics and athletics went from CA to MA, enrolling at Williams College in Massachusetts. A storied institution, and a liberal arts powerhouse, Williams introduced Schuyler to change in every aspect. Different accents, different clothes, different people, different weather, different surroundings. Everything, different.
With change all around him, he focused on his stride. Schuyler began to recognize that discomfort and adversity are facts of life, and that we are given a choice to let that impact who we are or stay true to our foundations while adapting to our surroundings. Schuyler chose the latter and dove even further into running. Between his teammates and his miles, running became Schuyler’s North Star, keeping him connected to home, despite encountering more change than he ever had before. His guide through the uncharted spaces brought on by a young man entering college on the other side of the country, and all the good and bad that follows.
I’ve heard team sports guys wonder why anyone would take up running (I was one!), and I’m here to say that when the clock has the final say and time tells who the winner is, there’s nothing more satisfying.
Your training is there, or it isn’t on race day. You can work your way into a better position on your team, in your conference, and in your life if you put in the work. No faking it til you make it in running either. You have to get your miles in, believe in your training, and your teammates, because in college racing, those on either side of you will carry you across the finish line, and you, them. 3,000 miles away, Schuyler was carving a path towards his most productive, responsible, and dedicated self, by working hard on the pavement and the books. Putting in the time every, single, day.
After graduating and working in communities across the country, Schuyler was heading back to Hayward for a career change. He heard that Mt. Eden did not have a current coach for both boys and girls track and Cross Country teams. Schuyler’s alma mater was about to lose the program that he grew up in, and that started him on the road he is today. For Schuyler, the poetic and circular notion of the possibility was too hard to ignore. Back to Mt. Eden, where he started, to give back to kids that were just like him, to inspire and encourage them to chase dreams, and go to whatever corner of the country or the globe they are called to. He pitched himself for the job, and got it.
You can find Coach Hall at Mt. Eden. Greeting the teams, smiling from ear to ear, and lacing ‘em up. Empowering the young men and women of Hayward to put one foot in front of the other until they’ve reached that goal… Rinse, Repeat.
If you enjoyed Schuyler’s story, there are so many young men and women who could use your help! Consider supporting running organizations who are making an impact via building community and empowering individuals. Oh, and get your ass up and go for a jog/run today. #HaveMoreFun