Mr. Commerson’s zest for life continues


Audrey Weber, Staff Writer

After fighting in the Vietnam War, collecting over 50 winning titles in multiple sports and thirty one years of teaching, running 19 marathons and hiking the Appalachian trail, Mr. Hal Commerson continues to impact RHS.

Mr. Commerson’s passion for teaching is shown through the impression he left on his co-workers, according to English teacher Mr. Frank Gollon.

“I don’t think there was a day that I worked with him that I didn’t laugh at some point,” Mr. Gollon said. “It’s the passion he has for everything he does. He is a person that greatly celebrates life and wants to make the most of it so that rubs off on the people around him.”

After 43 years of coaching, Mr. Commerson’s influence has affected many people on the field, according to coach and social studies teacher Mr. Larry Adams.

“I can honestly say that what I do today is a great deal because of coach Commerson,” Mr. Adams said. “He gave me my start in coaching. [When I started coaching] I sometimes made rookie mistakes and he let me have it. As I grew in experience, he felt confident enough to turn his Cross Country and track program over to myself and Coach Mark Merlo.”

Along with his fellow coaches and teachers, Mr. Commerson continues to influence students by coaching basketball at both Reuther and Rochester, as freshman Elizabeth Bulat explains.

“He pushed us really hard and was really strict with us, but we were successful through it,” Bulat said. “It taught us that working hard pays off. He took two teams, West and Reuther, that were not very good and pushed us hard so we would be able to compete.”

Over the years Mr. Commerson’s attitude has influenced the actions taken by several staff members. Mr. Adams explains how Mr. Commerson has made an impact on his teaching.

“Like him, I am not afraid to put in the hours needed to make sure that our athletes and students are successful,” Mr. Adams said. “I have spent my entire adult life working to make RHS a better place. That drive comes from his influence and well as the influence of other mentors in my career.”

From coaching Cross Country and Track, Mr. Commerson has been able to affect multiple runners with his pieces of advice learned throughout his career.

“The most important thing a young runner should know is start with shoes that are right for the runner,” Mr. Commerson said. “Start slow with a few easy runs at short distances and learn to read the body for the difference between soreness and injury. It is also important to develop a toughness for not giving up when things get hard like they will at times.”

As far as running goes. Mr. Commerson has completed 19 marathons in his lifetime with his twentieth in November in New York.

“My favorite marathons have been the seven Boston Marathons because of the history of the being the oldest in the country,” Mr. Commerson said. “It is also the most difficult. My marathon career is coming to an end in the next couple of years as I get closer to 70-years-old.”

Mr. Adams describes the life lessons he has learned from Mr. Commerson.

“His life lessons teach about being respectful, being accountable for your actions and having a love for what you do,” Mr. Adams said. “Hard work pays off. Coach Commerson still teaches those life skills today. And we are better off for it.”

There is always an underlying piece of wisdom that shines through his life and affects the people in the Rochester community.

“Just the idea that you have to live life, it does not matter how old you are you can still continue to live and go for great things,” Mr. Gollon said. “Do not quit living.”