Sean Donnelly follows his Man Compass in the throw circle and everywhere else

sean donnelly, hammer

Sean Donnelly has embraced his Man Compass since high school and it brought him this far. Who would have guessed a man who spins around within a small circle is a model of an inner sense of direction?

Photo credit: Becky Miller,

Very few people grow up thinking “I’m going to be hammer thrower some day.” Only a few more than that even know what the hammer throw is at those early ages. Sean Donnelly did not know, but he did not need to know. He had his Man Compass to guide him all the way.

“When I was in eighth grade I want on a trip to visit my brother in college,” Donnelly said. “We went to a corn maze, and decided to race through the corn maze to see who could get out of there faster. I beat him by a substantial amount of time. He was like ‘What, what happened?!'”

“And I was a 13-year old kid and jokingly I said ‘It was my Man Compass!’ And we ran with it through the following years.”

After getting Donnelly out of the corn maze, the Man Compass guided him first to the University of Mount Union and then to the University of Minnesota. While at Mount Union, Donnelly picked up a minor in philosophy. That helped him realize there was more than just a joke between brothers at the root of the Man Compass.

It’s that sense of inner direction. You can call it your gut feeling, but I call it a man compass because it steers me through life more or less. Though it began as a joke, I think it’s a pretty important thing… It’s definitely bigger than one’s self.

Donnelly’s Man Compass brought him to the hammer throw. Now he wants to bring the hammer throw to everyone else. His camera is a constant companion as he vlogs his way from circle to circle.

“Not only is it a great hobby or a waste of time, it’s a way for me to get out and show what it’s like to be not just a post-collegiate athlete or a post-collegiate track & field athlete but a post-collegiate hammer thrower. The vlogs are way for me to show what hammer is, what we do throughout our daily lives and what it’s like to compete as a high-level athlete.”

Donnelly knows that he is facing an uphill battle both within the sport and in the broader sports scene to grab people’s attention. He knows that he is responsible for himself. But he also shares the burden of getting his unique event out into the public’s consciousness.

People want T&F to grow and be like a mainstream sport or at least a bigger sport than it is now. But they don’t do anything to increase exposure. But if I can get 1000 views on a vlog, maybe 500 of them don’t know what hammer is.

Like most throwers, Sean Donnelly cuts a distinct figure. He would not blend in easily in most places, and particularly when he is walking around talking to himself.

“Definitely a lot of weird looks. The first couple vlogs I was deathly afraid to talk in front of it, let alone talk in front of a group of random people. Maybe they just assume I’m some crazy talking into a camera, who knows.”