In March, Mary “Mare” Sheehan woke up to a text from her parents with a link about a new show on HBO called Mare of Easttown. Not only was the show set in the Philly suburb where she grew up, but the lead character played by Kate Winslet was also named Mare Sheehan.
“My parents instantly were like ‘We can’t wait for it to start! You have to come home on Sundays to have dinner and watch the show,’” Sheehan said.
Then things started to get weird.
Not only was HBO’s Mare Sheehan from Delco, but she was also a star basketball player, nicknamed “Miss Lady Hawk.”
“It was crazy,” Sheehan said. “I was like wait, hold on, now we got my name, my town, my sport, and my mascot? This is too much! It’s one too many coincidences.”
Sheehan, 22, grew up in Drexel Hill, Delaware County (Delco!), and said people have been calling her Mare since she was a child.
She went to Cardinal O’Hara High School, where she led the girls basketball team to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship her senior year, then enrolled at St. Joe’s, where 11 of her family members are alumni, including her mother and father. Her dad even played the mascot, the Hawk, for three years.
Sheehan joined the basketball team her freshman year and, because she took summer courses and had AP credits that transferred from high school, she got her undergrad degree in accounting by her junior year. During her fourth year, she returned to St. Joe’s to get her MBA and, thanks to the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver granting students another year of eligibility, she’s coming back to play her final season at St. Joe’s this fall as a guard and co-captain of the women’s basketball team.
“I decided to take the fifth year option because I love this place so much and I wanted to come back,” she said.
Deloitte, an accounting firm which offered Sheehan a position in its Philly office, even agreed to defer her spot in its audit department until 2022 so she could play another year.
While there are similarities, their career aspirations are among the many stark differences between the Mares, including that the real Sheehan is not a grandmother or a mother and she does not vape excessively, or at all.
“I gotta keep these lungs working good,” she said.
Sheehan also never puts Cheez Whiz on cheeseballs.
“I do like cheese, just not in those forms,” she said. “We’d make jokes about her diet all the time, trying to draw a contrast between myself and her.”
But both Mares do share a love of Wawa, though the real Mare’s order is a bit more complicated than coffee with two creamers, no sugar.
“I get an Italian hoagie — ya gotta have a hoagie from Wawa — with pepperoni, pickles, sweet peppers, and, this is the kicker, I put buffalo sauce as my condiment.”
As her friends and family watched the show live — or even now, when they’re catching up on streaming — she gets calls and texts asking if she’s talked to anybody from the show about using her likeness.
“I’d love to meet Kate but I’m definitely not coming for any legal things,” she said.
Sheehan, who said the most Delco thing about her is “probably how much I love Delco” and how “everybody who knows me knows I’m from Delco,” felt the cast nailed the Delco accent.
But at times the show came down a bit hard on her beloved home county, she said.
“They definitely played into the stereotype that everybody is a little tougher here and rough around the edges,” she said. “And while I feel like Delco is known for drinking, on the show anytime anybody was eating they were drinking, and that’s not exactly true.”
Sheehan said she and her parents, who watched the show together, did guess who dun it before the finale aired (”I have a text receipt to a friend proving it!”), but they’re less certain how the title character came to share her name.
As with all things in Delco there are theories, of course. Sheehan’s dad and siblings attended Cardinal O’Hara High, where Tom Ingelsby, the father of the show’s creator, Brad Ingelsby, also attended and played ball. And there’s a theory that somebody may have dated someone else’s cousin (which is a prevailing theory for many things in Delco, of course).
“Those are the only real stretches we have,” Sheehan said.
On Wednesday, Sheehan — who has played the role of Mare Sheehan her whole life, for free — was not the least bit bitter to learn Winslet had been nominated for an Emmy for her role in the show this week.
“No way! That’s incredible!” she said. “I thought she just did a phenomenal job.”
In her final season with the Hawks, Sheehan is not only hoping to score a championship with the team, she’s also hoping that Winslet, whose character showed up to a reunion for her basketball team at the local high school slugging back a beer, might make an appearance at a game.
“I have a ticket with her name on it for any and all games she wants to come to,” Sheehan said. “They do sell beer at our games now, so I’ll make sure we’ve got it stocked for her.”