Profile- Jack MacLaughlin

By Aidan Judge

There are few sports that are as physically demanding as running. There are also few people with the mental fortitude to run competitively year round. However, there is one local senior who has the willpower and strength for this grueling sport: Jack MacLaughlin. 

If you’re a local sports fan, you may recognize this Hockomock League All-Star’s name. Being at the top of the league in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, success is something that MacLaughlin has gotten used to in the world of running. Nonetheless, it wasn’t always this way.

When MacLaughlin first entered North Attleboro High School in the fall of 2017, he actually didn’t have a running career at all. Instead, he played for the boys soccer team as a goalie. 

“I played soccer because track and cross country were not important to me when I was an underclassmen,” MacLaughlin says. He played with the team for his first two years at NAHS until joining the cross country team in the fall of his junior year. 

MacLaughlin says he doesn’t regret making the switch from goalie to distance runner, trading in his goalie pads for his signature running headband. In fact, running wasn’t completely foreign to him when he was growing up, and had always been a part of his life. 

“As I grew up, I did gravitate towards track and running in general a lot. I started running competitively and fell in love with the sport from the first race I ran. My mom is super active and pushed me to join the local Y’s track team,” MacLaughlin says. 

This change of heart would soon turn out to be a life-changing decision, MacLaughlin found out. Ever since he made the complete switch to competitive running, the local track star has seen nothing but success.

After his first cross country season in the fall of 2019, MacLaughlin achieved major success in his third indoor track season, being ranked in the top 400-meter dash runners of the Hockomock League. Shortly after the season’s conclusion, he was awarded with the MVP running award for the team and the title of team captain for the forthcoming season. 

Since then, MacLaughlin hasn’t stopped chasing speed and running success. Even though the spring 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MacLaughlin has made up for lost time in what has been a stellar cross country season for him, ranked in the top runners of the Hockomock League’s men’s 5k. 

So what motivates MacLaughlin to run so well? Is it luck, athleticism, or just pure willingness and grit? Well, he points to his competitive nature.

“I am a super competitive person and I really dislike losing. I had always been super passionate about the sport and used my desire to win as motivation to improve and get better,” MacLaughlin says. 

MacLaughlin also makes a point to encourage his teammates as much as possible during races. Teammate Max Hobbs states, “No matter how you’re doing in your race, Jack is always one of the loudest and most encouraging people when cheering you on.” 

Other parts of MacLaughlin’s personality come to light when running, such as his stern determination. “When I’m running, I think my determination shows up because I do my best to never give up during a race,” he says. He also says some parts of his personality don’t show up in running: “I would say that a part of my personality that is suppressed is my cautionary attitude, because I really like to take risks while I am running and gamble with my pace.”

MacLaughlin’s teammates say they can learn a thing or two from his gung-ho racing style, as well. Melissa Sapini, captain of the NAHS girls cross country team, says, “Watching Jack race is mesmerizing. His strength comes from his speed, he’s a phenomenal sprinter and his hard work towards every track event plays a huge factor into his success in long distance running.” 

Although the future is uncertain given the current state of the world, MacLaughlin has big plans for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons, both of which he is a captain for. He believes he has a lot that proves his worth as a captain as well. 

“I think a quality of mine that proves my worth as a leader is my passion for the sport. For both seasons, I want to place in the top 5 at league championships as a team and to get top 3 as an individual,” he says.

MacLaughlin’s dreams of running won’t end after high school. The local sprinter has been in contact with numerous universities and athletic programs to make sure his running career lives on through his college years. MacLaughlin wants to achieve an even bigger dream and run after college as well. 

“It is a dream of mine to continue at a professional level after college,” he says.

MacLaughlin’s colleagues think his college career is promising. Said teammate Shruti Srinivasan, “He’s a very hard worker and tries his best in every practice and race so he’ll prove to be a great runner in college,” 

Running isn’t the only facet to MacLaughlin’s personality. Throughout the years, MacLaughlin has been very politically active and cognizant of the world’s political climate, siding with organizations like Black Lives Matter and supporting the move to help stop climate change. If running doesn’t work out, his next choice is politics. 

“I am very passionate about politics because it affects every single person in one way or another. I want to make a change in the world and a career in politics is a good way to do that,” MacLaughlin says. 

As MacLaughlin finishes his high school career on a strange and unexpected note due to the pandemic, lots of emotions surround his final days at North Attleboro High School.  Although he isn’t particularly sad about saying goodbye to the academic sides of things, he does have strong feelings about his final track seasons. 

“I don’t really care about the schooling part- I really like online school to be honest. However, I am very sad about all of the social events that we are missing, and the potential cancellation of the winter and spring seasons. It’s really sad to work hard for four years to potentially not have a senior season,” he says. 

Even though nothing is set in stone for the remainder of the school year, MacLaughlin’s attitude is nothing but positive and hopeful for the future. Everyday, he’s training for that final race with the North Attleboro team. 

So just remember: Wherever MacLaughlin may be in life, you can always count on finding him with three things: Running shoes, a headband, and a competitive nature like no other.

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