MONSON, Mass. (WGGB) — Monson High School Athletic Director Sarah Shaw has known and admired Merissia Phipps for years. She watched as Phipps captained her soccer team to a number of championships. She also watched how Phipps stepped up for others in the face of disaster, the June 1st tornado.
“It felt like we we’re getting hit by a train,” said Phipps. “You could hear the wind blowing and the windows breaking, just everything coming down. After the tornado, we opened up our eyes. We were all covered in oil, water, the insulation.”
Phipps’ home was leveled but that didn’t stop her from going to help her neighbors clear their yards, find their things. Even when she did look through the rubble of her house that day, it was in part for the sake of her teammates.
“Here’s her house in complete ruins,” said Shaw. “Nothing left of it. Absolutely nothing left of it. And she was trying to find what she needed. So, she wouldn’t let her teammates down to get to her soccer game. So she could play that day.”
Phipps doesn’t just go all out for her teammates either.
“Merissia’s always been a student that has stood up for those that maybe weren’t comfortable with standing up for themselves,” said Shaw.
This is especially true when it comes to special needs students.
“People don’t take them seriously sometimes,” said Phipps. “And I know from experience with working with these kids that some of them are smarter than regular kids who don’t have learning disabilities and i don’t think people know that.”
Phipps plans to study special education at American International College and then work with special needs kids.
“She’s really learned to balance her, balance family, balance her academics and her athletics,” said Shaw. “It’s amazing. And then throw a disaster in the middle of it.”