Zachariah Hoyle // Image Courtesy USM Athletics

Zachariah Hoyle, the senior history major out of Sidney, ME was running to the end of his cross country career at USM when it got cut short due to COVID-19. While running is important to Hoyle, it isn’t the only thing and that is what makes him the Husky Hero of the Week for the “COVID-19 Fall Sports Season”. 

In past issues, The Free Press would highlight a player and their impact on not only their team but also their contribution to the school and community. This semester presents a difficult challenge due to the cancellation of sports competitions between schools. With that being said, The Free Press will be focusing their efforts on recognizing those seniors who will not get to play in their last season due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Before Hoyle came to USM, he was a three-sport athlete participating in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field for four years at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine. Hoyle graduated from Messalonskee in 2017 and decided to continue his academic and athletic career at USM. 

Hoyle began running as an eighth-grader and hasn’t looked back since. His coach in middle school already had a connection with the head coach for USM, Ryan Harkleroad. Hoyle’s coach knew that he would be successful in Coach Harkelroad’s system as it was very similar to the one Hoyle had grown accustomed to. “When I got to USM I realized that the way they coached was similar and I liked that,” said Hoyle. 

Hoyle believes that “cross country teaches you perseverance, and that can be transferred into other areas of your life.” Coming from high school competition to college is quite the challenge as the races become twice as long. “It takes real perseverance and grit to get through the races and I think that helps me in other ways as well,” said Hoyle. 

When Hoyle is not running or in the classroom, he is participating in the Bravo Company, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at USM, which is a branch of the University of New Hampshire “Wildcat Battalion”. Currently Hoyle is an S-1. As an S-1 he is the commanding officer in charge of accountability and making sure that all the cadets are safe during the training. 

ROTC requires weekly physician training three times a week, often done early in the morning before the sun rises. Cadets also have to attend an ROTC specific class once a week along with a lab and maintain good academic standing. It is safe to say that Hoyle has made a good impression on the members of the ROTC at USM. “He is always a pleasant and uplifting person, especially in stressful conditions. I can’t keep up with his optimism and kindness and I especially can’t keep up with him on the track!” said Daniel Pierce, a sophomore within the program and an MS-2 maintaining the color guard for Bravo Company.

Between running, school and ROTC, Hoyle has a lot to balance. “I would like to thank my lord and savior, Jesus right off and my wife Haley for getting me through everything,” said Hoyle. With everything going on, Hoyle still reflects on this past year and is disappointed in regard to the season being canceled due to COVID-19.

This is a sport that Hoyle has found a true passion for, as he has been running competitively for the past nine years. Hoyle suffered an injury during the 2019 cross country season that left him out for that season as well as the indoor track & field season. He was scheduled for a return to the sport he loved during the outdoor track & field season, however that return was cut short due to the school suspending all athletic competition with the outbreak of COVID-19. 

Hoyle had trained all summer and was gearing up for what would have been his last season running for the Huskies cross country team. “Hearing that this upcoming season was canceled due to COVID-19 was definitely hard to deal with at first… I had to slow down what I was doing because I had been training for so long and I didn’t want to put any more miles on my legs in preparation for potential upcoming seasons,” said Hoyle. 

With Hoyle’s final season and year at USM coming to an end it can be hard for some people to think about what they will remember and cherish the most. For Hoyle he was quick with his response, “I think I will remember USM for the fact that this is where I met my wife Haley and learned so many things.” As Hoyle finishes his final year, he will graduate in the Spring and then plans to be an active member of the United States Army per his contract with ROTC. 


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