Sydney Passley-Harris commits to take her running skills to Vassar



Passley-Harris has always run for fun, and putting her skills to competition has paid off, as she is now committed to be running for the Vassar Girls track team in her upcoming college years.

According to the NCAA, 6.2 percent of all female high school track and field athletes continue on to a college team. Senior and track runner Sydney Passley-Harris is part of this statistic, who has recently verbally committed to run track at Vassar College.

Passley-Harris said her interest in the sport began at age eight from watching the Olympics with her family, and she started running when she was 10 years old.

“I was watching the 2012 Summer Olympics with my dad and uncle, and I remember seeing their excitement as Usain Bolt crossed the finish line first,” Passley-Harris said. “Before I thought to myself ‘Who runs for fun?’ But I saw their reactions and instantly knew that I wanted that excitement to also shine towards me.”

Passley-Harris said this decision has impacted her in numerous ways, particularly through the strengthening of her relationship with her dad.

“Running turned out to be something that is a really big part of my life,” Passley-Harris said. “It is the biggest thing that has brought me and my dad closer. It’s how we bond.”

But running on the track team has not always been easy for her. She said she dealt with many setbacks in her high school career, one of which happened during the beginning of her sophomore year.

“I was walking down the stairs on the first day of school and slipped and sprained my ankle. I wasn’t able to finish my season,” Passley-Harris said. “I went to physical therapy, and made sure to get the treatment I needed for a successful winter and spring season.”

Lee Eddy has been coaching track and field for forty-five years. Eddy started the women’s track program at Boston University in 1977, and has been coaching at Brookline since 2007. He has been Passley-Harris’ coach since her freshman year and said Passley-Harris has always been a big part of the team.

“She was one of our star athletes during her freshman year,” Eddy said. “She was part of a relay team in the springtime that went to states.”

Senior Annabel Cloney is one of Passley-Harris’ teammates and has been on the same team with her since freshman year. Cloney said Passley-Harris is a role model and friend to everyone else on the track team.

“I think everyone really looks up to her. One because she is really good, and two because she is always making new friends and talking to everyone,” Cloney said. “I think people see her as someone that they can come to to ask questions or as a friend to talk to about their day.”

Eddy said Passley-Harris’ injuries and time off from the COVID-19 pandemic have only conveyed her improvement on the team.

“She missed the rest of her sophomore year with her injured ankle and then lost most of her junior year to COVID-19. So this has been a real big comeback year for her,” Eddy said.

Cloney said that Passley-Harris’ injuries have only shown her dedication and hard work towards the sport.

“Her injuries have never stopped her from coming back and getting better. Even though she has had to take time off, she never stops. She always thinks about how she can do better and how she can improve,” Cloney said.

Alongside running, Passley-Harris shows the same determination in her interest to pursue government, politics and social justice at Vassar College.

“I am passionate about these subjects because I want to help other people to ensure that they get the equality and opportunity they need to be themselves,” Passley-Harris said. “I have that opportunity when I am on the track, and I want to provide that for others.”