Panther Profile - Senior Michael O'Herron

photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center
photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center

Michael O’Herron ’19 recently concluded the regular-season portion of his fourth and final year on the Middlebury men’s soccer team. A mathematics major from Boulder, Colorado, O’Herron loves to teach adaptive skiing and has found plenty of opportunities on Vermont slopes.

Tell us about your work with the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports group.
Vermont Adaptive Sports is an organization that teaches people with disabilities how to ski and snowboard. Working for Vermont Adaptive this past winter, and hopefully this coming winter, has been a continuation of my longstanding love of sharing skiing with people.

I started volunteering as the “runny-nose wiper” and Eye-Spy competitor for a similar organization when I was in eighth grade in Breckenridge, Colorado. I worked with kids with all sorts of disabilities during that time, and that feeling when they connect their first turn or even just click into their bindings for the first time is amazing. It was great to be able to share the joy of skiing with other people. After coming to Middlebury and spending two winters away from it, I realized how much I missed teaching adaptive skiing, and I reached out to Vermont Adaptive to see if I could help. They are an amazing organization, and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to volunteer for them.

Can you describe a way you’ve connected with the surrounding Middlebury community?
I got involved volunteering at EastView at Middlebury through my first-year Seminar, “Psychology and the Meaning of Life.” The coursework included a request that we find a place in town to volunteer for a few hours per week. I asked the people at EastView at Middlebury if I could volunteer to spend time with the elderly suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I love meeting new people, so I thought I wouldn't mind meeting someone one week and then re-meeting them the next because they were unsure who I was. I did have a great time going there every week to go on walks, get crushed in Yahtzee and listen to stories from people who have done some amazing things “back in their day.” I also found it to be really difficult after getting to know someone for a few weeks, it was hard not to get attached to them and feel for them. I learned then, as part of my “Meaning of Life” class, that getting old is very hard.  

Tell us about some clubs and activities you’ve enjoyed over your four years.
I have, at various points in my Middlebury Career, been a Tour Guide, a Tutor, a member of the Debate Society, Space Club, a Radio Show host and I currently serve on the Board of the Old Stone Mill. As it happens, I have pretty much started one of these activities at the expense of another, so I haven't been a longstanding member of any of them. There are too many fun groups to join and activities to do and not enough time in the day.

Do you remember why you originally chose Middlebury?
On paper, Middlebury checked all of the boxes - small, rural, ski mountain, soccer team, sufficient financial aid, etc.. I was fortunate enough to be choosing between a handful of similar schools, and I was able to visit many of them to help decide where I wanted to end up. I found that when it came down to it, I liked the people and professors that I met at Middlebury the most. I was particularly impressed with the soccer team - they seemed to have a culture and attitude that I hadn't seen anywhere else. This made it a relatively easy decision in the end.

Why soccer?
As long as I can remember, playing soccer has always made me happy. And as long as that was the case, I have always worked as hard as I could to keep playing. It seems simplistic, but that is really all there is to it. I am very grateful for the Middlebury men’s soccer program for giving me the opportunity to play a game I love every fall over the last four years.

What is your #MiddMoment?
I've had so many amazing moments here. One of my favorites was running from Middlebury to Burlington with two of my teammates and good friends. I guess that is more of a #MiddDay then a moment. I have had amazing sunrise hikes, “Taco Tuesdays,” Winter Carnival treks up the Snow Bowl, and of course celebrating overtime game-winning goals. In the end, I think some of my favorite moments have transpired in Proctor on any given weeknight, laughing hysterically at an absurd comment made by a teammate, friend or stranger.