SJA News


SJA Freshman Named Hilltoppers Honorary Captain


St. Johnsbury freshman Thomas Chesbrough was the Hilltoppers' honorary captain prior to the team's 36-28 victory over BFA-St. Albans at Fairbanks Field on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Chesbrough, who is battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy, led the Hilltopper football captains to the center of the field for the coin toss on the date of the 10th anniversary of Coach to Cure MD, a program that raises awareness and fundraising for those fighting DMD. (Photo by Michael Beniash/Caledonian Record)


From the Caledonian-Record

Stephen Garfield, Caledonian Record

ST. JOHNSBURY — St. Johnsbury Academy freshman Thomas Chesbrough would like to say he told the boys something at halftime that spurred St. Johnsbury Academy's exciting 36-28 win Saturday over BFA-St. Albans, but that wouldn't be exactly accurate.

The soft-spoken, articulate Waterford resident was, however, on the sidelines encouraging the team on as part of the nationwide Coach To Cure Muscular Dystrophy (MD) day on Sept. 30. Wearing SJA jersey number 75, he participated in the pregame coin flip as the Hilltoppers' honorary captain, then cheered the boys on as they rallied from a 28-14 deficit to a 36-28 win to remain undefeated. The Hilltoppers wore patches on their uniforms to mark the occasion.

Thomas, 14, was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Coach To Cure MD is a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), a professional organization for over 10,000 college football coaches and staff, and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest national charity devoted exclusively to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In 2008 the AFCA adopted PPMD's Coach To Cure MD program as one of its charity efforts. One reason was because of the parallels between Duchenne, a disorder which robs young men of muscle strength, and college football, a game where young men are at the peak of their muscle strength.

The effort to include Thomas in Saturday's game came from an Academy teacher, said his mother Alison. "Thomas expressed his interest in football," and the arrangements were made from there, she said. "He's always had an interest in the game," she added. "He's a huge Patriots fan – doesn't miss a game."

Thomas was able to get around on his own up until around 11 years old, his dad David said. "It was in his fifth-grade year that he lost his ability to walk," he said. Up until then "He'd come with me to hunting camp, and he'd drive and ride a four-wheeler," he recalled.

Asked prior to the Hilltoppers-BFA St. Albans game, Thomas said "it feels good" being honorary captain. Turning to the Patriots, they "look good" so far this season (this was the day before their loss to Carolina), and mentioned the Academy in the same vein. The Hilltoppers then went out and slammed the Bobwhites with 22 unanswered points for the win, cheered on by Thomas Chesbrough on his special day.

Thomas was able to get around on his own up until around 11 years old, his dad David said. "It was in his fifth-grade year that he lost his ability to walk," he said. Up until then "He'd come with me to hunting camp, and he'd drive and ride a four-wheeler," he recalled.

Asked prior to the Hilltoppers-BFA St. Albans game, Thomas said "it feels good" being honorary captain. Turning to the Patriots, they "look good" so far this season (this was the day before their loss to Carolina), and mentioned the Academy in the same vein. The Hilltoppers then went out and slammed the Bobwhites with 22 unanswered points for the win, cheered on by Thomas Chesbrough on his special day.

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