HU on 2!

By: Elan Shems and Maggie Aiken

Smalltown culture shines bright here in Harwood Union athletics. (Photos by Burlington Free Press)

“Hardworking, fun, and tenacious.” Chris Langevin, the Director of Athletics and Activities at Harwood, used these three words to describe Harwood athletics. 

 To dive into Harwood athletics, we interviewed Langevin, who has been at Harwood for five years and seen teams through ups and downs, get pushed to the max, and put their heads down and charge forward. It’s more than a game—it’s a family here, one that won’t quit. 

“It’s the small-town culture,” said Langevin. “When I see a game, the people you see on the sidelines, it’s not just the parents of the kids playing and the students, I’m seeing parents of kids who graduated four years ago.” Harwood has created a family atmosphere around athletics so strong that it’s hard to leave. It’s a family you join without even noticing. 

For many, sports can create an emotional bond, even for those not participating first-hand. After being at Harwood for just five years, Langevin said, “I can fall in love with a school real quick, and I can have a very intense emotional connection to a school that I had no connection to before.” He is deeply proud of the sense of community here. 

Like a family reunion, the energy brought to play-off games is incomparable to the regular season. On March 11, 2020, our boys’ ice hockey team played at Gutterson for the state championship title. As this game wrapped up, our girls’ basketball team competed in a semifinal game in Barre for the first time in program history. The support at both games was incredible, and both had an amazing outcome. “Leaving Gutterson and heading down 89 to Barre was wild,” said Langevin when deciding his favorite moment in Harwood athletics. 


From the Classroom to the Field 

There are over 10 teachers at Harwood who teach and coach, making their connection with students even closer. We interviewed Brian Wagner, who has been coaching wrestling and middle school cross country at Harwood for the past 20 years and has been teaching STEM for the past 12. He has seen students from the classroom to the field and worked closely alongside them. When asked what his favorite part of watching athletics at Harwood is, his answer was short and simple: “When kids do something beyond what they thought they were capable of. It’s the most gratifying.”

We wanted to dive into the mental aspect of sports, as they’re as much a mental game as they are physical. Mental toughness is something we always work on, the lack of which can have a toll on our athletics. When we asked Wagner what he thought the best way to build mental toughness around athletics is, he said, “You have got to be willing to push back the feeling of discomfort. There’s always going to be times where you’re not on your best game, but being able to get over that feeling is super crucial.” As athletes push themselves, we see a mound of support behind them. To go out and give it your all doesn’t always mean you’re going to play your best game or come out on top, but one thing that can be guaranteed is the family that will have your back.  

As student athletes balance school along with athletics and so much more, it’s easy to become stressed and overworked. We asked Wagner what one piece of advice he would give to student athletes. “Don’t sweat the idea of being the best at something,” he said. “It’s about having fun and falling in love with the sport and learning the skills. High school and middle school athletics are a time to grow as an individual, to challenge yourself and grow your leadership. Not all days are good days, but the overall goal is to have fun.”