Joining a team changed my life

Merrick Hemond ’21

Hometown: West Burke, Vermont

Merrick a student athlete

My name is Merrick Hemond, and I run on both the cross country and track and field teams here at St. Johnsbury Academy. Before coming to the Academy, I had never been on a sports team. But the summer going into my freshman year, I decided that I would join the school’s cross country program. I can easily say this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.


Like anyone on their first day of practice, I was nervous; meeting new people, becoming a part of something larger than myself. But instantly, I found people who I had not ever spoken to coming up and introducing themselves, showing care and a true desire to make me feel welcome. It was those actions, their immediate display of their genuine nature, that instantly provided me with a sense of community. But that was only the beginning.


Through my weeks of training, I received infinite support. Every hill I had to sprint, a teammate was always there next to me getting me through. On the long runs, I could rely on my teammates to strike up conversations that made the miles fly by. Every race I competed in, my coaches and teammates were cheering me on and that meant the world, knowing that they believed in me. Through these experiences during my first season, I learned that a team wasn’t only about a sport, but also about a culture of respect, support, and determination. I not only discovered a passion for running; I was welcomed into a new family. Joining a team here at the Academy truly changed my life.