Hare recently accepted a new head varsity coaching/teaching job at Mesa High in suburban Phoenix.
I was honored to be invited to the gathering at Bully's since my interactions with Hare have always been more professional than personal, although we have shared more than a few social interactions as our kids have played youth baseball and attended holiday parties together.
In an era when hiring — everything from fast food workers and outdoor maintenance crew members to teachers and coaches — is a crap shoot, Hare was a good hire for Spanish Springs. He worked hard to improve his program and he always took accountability when things didn't go well.
After a winless initial season in 2006, his Cougars increased their win total in each of the next three years. The Cougars made the playoffs for the first time under Hare in 2009 and that fall beat perennial power McQueen for the first time in school history.
Spanish Springs qualified for the regional playoffs just once in its first seven seasons, but it has earned a postseason berth in each of the last five years, all under Hare. He guided the Cougars when they earned their lone playoff win in school history, knocking off Manogue, on the Miners home field, in a regional quarterfinal in 2012.
Hare has his detractors, but you cannot coach high school sports — or athletics at any level really — without gaining a few of those along the way. Still, most of those critics have never coached at the high school level nor do they have the desire to put in the countless hours it takes to run a varsity program.
A lot of those detractors didn't like the way Hare called plays or didn't like that he may not have played their child as much as they'd have liked. However, when there's 60 players on a team and only 11 are on the field at a time, simple math tells you he can't make everyone happy.
Sure, Hare is far from perfect and he made some poor coaching decisions during his tenure at Spanish Springs. He'd be the first to admit that. Still, he's made many more good decisions along the way and Cougar athletes are better for Hare having been on staff at the local school.
Hare shared with me last fall that as the football coach, he believed he had a bigger responsibility to the school than just running practices on the gridiron and calling plays on Friday nights in the fall. He felt he was a role model for the school. That's why you'd always see him in the community sporting his SSHS gear. That's why he, along with his family, attended many SSHS volleyball, basketball and baseball games throughout the school year.
That's an awesome responsibility he put on himself and he should be admired for that. Many schools don't have coaches who hold themselves to that high standard and the ones that do are privileged.
There are thousands of prep football coaches across the country. There are some better than Hare but there are many more who are not. He was a good coach for Spanish Springs and I personally wish him the best with his new gig in Arizona.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's managing/sports editor. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org