Will Conlin

School: Springfield Township

Football, Swimming, Baseball





Favorite athlete: Lewis Hamilton 


Favorite team: Eagles 

Favorite memory competing in sports: Scoring a game-winning touchdown against William Tennent  


Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Striking someone out and walking off the mound then tripping and hyper-extending my knee 


Music on my playlist: Future 


Future plans: Attending West Chester 


Words to live by: “It doesn’t matter who starts the game but finishes it.”


One goal before turning 30: Own Eagles season tickets 


One thing people don’t know about me: My favorite book is The Outsiders 



By Ed Morrone


Being the coach’s kid tends to be a roller coaster of peaks and valleys, and Will Conlin’s experience was not much different.

Will’s dad, Kevin, is the head football coach at Abington after a long stint as an assistant. In between those periods, Kevin took a breather to coach Will’s CYO football team in sixth grade, where Will got to experience getting chewed out in front of his teammates by Kevin, a former walk-on at Penn State in the mid-90s who ultimately earned a scholarship to play for Joe Paterno just as his older brothers Chris and Keith had. 

It couldn’t have been easy at the time, and both father and son admitted as much. But now? After a successful football career — as well as baseball and swimming careers — at Springfield Township, Will looks back on the tough love he received from Kevin as something that hardened him and turned him into the player he ultimately became.

“My dad didn’t like the ‘daddy ball’ thing, so he was extra hard on me over anything small or little, like me jogging during a sprint,” Will said. “He would pick me out and scream at me, but now I realize that made me what I am today. I’m proud that he’s my dad. It was always good to have him around, even when he was hard on me. When he’d drive me home from practice, he would just talk to me and not yell: ‘Here’s what you did wrong, and here’s how you fix it.’

“As I got older, we’d watch film together. He started as a junior and senior at Penn State and was helped along by a lot of different coaches. He played offensive line and taught me how to block. Even though I play tight end, I’ve always thought I blocked well and that’s because he really helped me out with that.”

To his part, Kevin said coaching Will “reinvigorated” him as a coach. Much like Will did, Kevin acknowledged the difficulty of the dynamic while also finding ways to spin it into a positive experience.

“It is a lot harder,” Kevin said. “You see something in your son and want to see him achieve, so maybe I pushed him a little harder, and the other kids can vouch for that. But now it’s something that he and I laugh about. It was a great opportunity, not just for him but also for me to get to coach him. I loved that time period. We bonded on those rides home where I could tell him how much he’s improved, which was a critical part of his development.”

Springfield didn’t make the playoffs this past season, but the Spartans had a solid season at 6-3. Conlin was a big part of that, as a tight end who could catch passes just as well as he could block; as a defensive end who was able to make tackles at the line of scrimmage and pressure the quarterback; and even as a long snapper on kicks, something Conlin considered doing in college at West Chester. 

Conlin became an indispensable part of what Springfield did in all facets of the game, but there was always something — or more aptly, someone — who was missing. Because of Kevin’s coaching responsibilities elsewhere, he never got to see Will play in high school. However, this year Kevin was able to make it to Springfield’s homecoming game to watch his son play as Will’s proud father, not his coach. The significance of the moment was not lost on anybody involved.

“After eighth grade, he never really got to see my games, so it was really awesome to have him there,” Will said. “It was the first time he saw me play in a really long time, and it made things so much better. I definitely played better for him. I was just really happy.”

“Phenomenal experience,” Kevin added. “I missed my game in order to do that for him. When he saw me, it brought a huge smile to his face. He really lit up because he understood the sacrifice I made for him. I’m really proud of him.”

Chris Shelley is the head football coach at Springfield and has been in charge of Will’s development since Kevin passed his son off once he got to high school. As a fellow head coach in Suburban One, Shelley understands the difficulties of stepping away from the job even for one day, and he was beaming over the fact that Will and Kevin got to have that experience together.

“It was such a neat thing, and it got me choked up seeing Kevin there,” Shelley said. “It was just really cool to see him in the stands for Will’s last game as a senior. This is a guy who is the coach of a football team, but he just really wanted to be there for his son.”

Shelley pointed out Will’s exceptional football IQ, which undoubtedly rubbed off from sharing a home with his father.

“I wish that I had 100 Will Conlins,” Shelley said. “Some kids think they have all the answers, but with Will it was always, ‘Coach, how should I run this? What do you think of this? This route’s open, maybe we should look at this.’ I’m really going to miss his ability to communicate what he sees to me. He’s been a phenomenal worker for us: he was a late bloomer, but we always knew he had a great football IQ and a lot of potential. It just took him a little while to realize it in our program, but Will had a monster senior year.”

The neat thing about Will separating from his father and attending a different high school has allowed him to forge his own identity, and not just on the football field, even if that is the family business, so to speak. 

On the baseball field, Conlin came into his own as both a first baseman and pitcher. After not having a sophomore baseball season due to the pandemic, Conlin was right in the thick of things as a junior, helping guide Springfield to a division title, a win in the District One 4A bracket and finishing runner-up after losing to Holy Ghost in the title game. 

“Will seemed like a gentleman and scholar from the moment I met him his freshman year,” Springfield head baseball coach Dennis Primavera said. “He was always dedicated to what he was doing, and as a junior, he played great defense at first base and was an offensive force with his bat. And while all of those parts didn’t meld his senior year, to his credit he was there every day. If I had 20 players like him, it would be a pleasure.”

The Spartans indeed had a tough baseball season in 2022, winning just two games. But to Primavera’s point, Conlin never sulked or quit when the wins didn’t come as easily as they had the previous season. 

“When you win two games, it can be hard to keep everybody motivated,” Conlin said. “My junior year team, we had a great group of senior leaders, and so this season me and a couple other seniors just tried to talk everybody up in the dugout. Which can be tough when you’re down by a lot, but I think we did a good job. Everybody was always talking and cheering each other on. That’s the best part about Springfield: we know we’re a really small school, and we all know each other from growing up. That creates good team chemistry, and it was still a great team to play on.”

Like many Springfield student-athletes, Conlin embodies the toughness that kids have to possess when playing for one of the smallest schools in SOL. The Spartans are almost always underdogs, even when they held their own this past football season over much larger programs in Cheltenham and Plymouth Whitemarsh. Regardless of whatever the final score was, there was a strong sense of community pride anytime Conlin slipped on a Springfield jersey.

“We do have that scrappy mentality, and it helps that there’s not a lot of kids in the school that you don’t know, so you’re close with everybody,” Conlin said. “We tend to get overlooked by the bigger schools, and we use that to our advantage: we’re going to come out early and punch you in the face to wake you up.”

Conlin even swam for Springfield for his tenth through twelfth grade years. He grew up swimming for his country club team but stopped at 12 to focus more on baseball and football. He dabbled in basketball in his earlier years as well, but decided it wasn’t for him and eventually found his way back into the pool thanks to his former country club coach who was now at Springfield. 

“It definitely made me a better football and baseball player just because we lifted every day,” Conlin said. “It increased my flexibility and strength, and it was a lot of fun. I really liked it and was even a captain my senior year. I broke my foot last year and I only had two practices to get myself ready to try to qualify for districts. I was able to do that and was just really proud of myself.”

Whether it was Shelley, Primavera, his coaches in the pool or his own father, it’s clear that Conlin has been impacted by a plethora of intellectual coaching minds. As a result, he is bound for West Chester University in the fall, where he plans on studying Health & Physical Education in hopes that he will one day become a middle school P.E. teacher and coach. Unlike his dad, Conlin is pretty sure that varsity high school coaching is not his lane.

“I thought about going to Penn State since my dad and his brothers did, but they wanted me to start at Penn State Abington for two years,” Conlin said. “That seemed like a waste of my college years, and I visited West Chester a few times. It’s such a beautiful campus. My dad and Coach Shelley were big role models of mine, and I’ve always wanted to coach middle school football and baseball and teach gym. I think I’d be good at it. Those are the years where kids start learning how to play the sport when they aren’t fully developed yet. I think I’d really be able to help with that, because I didn’t fully develop until later on.”

As for playing a sport at West Chester, Conlin said he thought about attempting to be a long snapper for the football team. As of now, he’s set on just focusing on finishing school in four years, but he also said that if he finds himself missing football after freshman year, he may try to walk on later, much like his father did at Penn State. 

Away from his busy Springfield athletic schedule, Conlin still enjoys playing pickup basketball at his local courts. He’s also a caddy at a nearby golf course and said that while he enjoys playing golf every now and then, the sport is difficult and “I get too angry at myself,” he said with a laugh.

The coaches in Conlin’s life certainly think he’s got the chops to do it himself one day.

“He comes from an athletic family, so the greatest effect on Will is the influence his family has in his life,” Primavera said. “His dedication to the game and his maturity as a person really comes out immediately once you meet him. Never gets too high when we win or too low when we lose, and I like that about him because not too many kids have that.”

“That would be terrific,” Shelley said of Conlin’s chosen career path. “I hope he comes back and takes my job someday. The best things are ahead for him. Just a terrific kid who I can’t say enough about.”

“He’d make a good coach,” Kevin Conlin said. “The best players don’t always make the best coaches; the ones who have to work harder for their accolades do. They understand that not every kid is a star, but with hard work, perseverance, discipline and desire, you can become a pretty good football player. He understands that because it’s where he’s been his whole life.”

Will has already forged unbreakable bonds with teammates and coaches in the small Springfield community, and he looks forward to one day coming back and paying it forward as a coach.

“It’s been really easy to meet friends and make big relationships here, ones I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s kind of nice that when you do something special in this community, everyone hears about it. It always gets back to you, and it’s been really awesome taking pride in proudly representing Springfield.”