The Elms College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams spent a three-day retreat at the Agape Community in Hardwick, Massachusetts, prior to the start of the academic year.

Cross Country team at Agape

Cross Country Team Learns Service and Bonding

The Elms College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams spent a three-day retreat at the Agape Community in Hardwick, Massachusetts, prior to the start of the academic year.

“It was an opportunity to perform community service, learn about our Catholic identity and our role of service in the world, and to bond as a team,” said Matt Dyer, head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams.

The Agape Community is a lay Catholic residential community, which focuses on prayer, simplicity, and nonviolence. The student-athletes learned about sustainable living, practiced community service, and got to know their teammates better without the distractions of modern technology.Tree planting at Agape

“The trip speaks a lot to how our team not only practices becoming better athletes, but better people,” said Kerry Ashe ‘14, assistant coach.

After prayer and a morning run, the teams spent their afternoons splitting firewood, gardening, and clearing brush, among other projects.

“It gives you a feeling of satisfaction that can only be attained through hard work done with your bare hands,” said Dyer.

Brayton and Suzanne Shanley, founders of the Agape Community, led evening reflections with discussions about sustainable living, practicing peace, and their story of starting Agape. Carol Allan, SSJ, director of campus ministry, and Andrew Mercado ‘16 also stopped by to lead one of the eventing reflections.

“The trip to Agape not only brought my cross country team closer together but has provided me with an experience that I won’t ever forget,” said Emily Taylor ‘15, captain of the women’s team.