Hetrick is still chasing his dreams

Ryan Hetrick

Ryan Hetrick admits that he hasn’t always been a big Twitter user, but a post he made late last month caught my eye.

“Why not give life everything you have?” he tweeted. “Why not get obsessed over an idea, over a technology, over something that will change the world?”

Five days later, the area native offered this:

“After a lot of hard work and faith in our system, I am excited to announce the official launch of @teammercsin. This is our dream, and it’s starting to come true.”

Hetrick has always been a young man with big dreams.

So, I reached out to him to inquire about his latest one.

I’m not about to bet against him.

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Nearly seven years ago, I sat in a conference room at Maple Grove Junior Senior High School where Hetrick announced he would continue his academic and athletic career at the United States Military Academy at West Point. By the time he graduated in 2021, he had earned a degree in engineering management and he had captained the Cadets’ wrestling team, which is only fitting since sports have always been a huge part of his life. In fact, during his high school career, which included time at Southwestern Central School, Hetrick earned 17 letters in cross country, wrestling and track & field.

“I always knew I wanted to do something different,” he said that January afternoon in 2016. “I wanted to do something unique.”

Enter Team Mercsin, which is made up of a group that includes Hetrick, who is now a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John Zimmerman, who is a former Army hockey captain from Austin, Texas; and Joshua Park, who is a 2021 West Point graduate from Seattle, Washington. Together, they had attempted to start, but failed, in two previous business opportunities, but they believe they found something earlier this year that has some real potential.

“After talking with some of my professors (at MIT Sloan School of Management) and talking with some former teammates, I thought of a great idea,” Hetrick wrote on Twitter. “With the emergence of Name Image and Likeness in college sports, we could help college athletes monetize.”

So Hetrick and associates “decided to run with it.”

“At the time, we didn’t really know how we were going to help them monetize,” he wrote, “but we were determined to figure it out.”

They appear to be on their way. And Team Mercsin has included Fredonia native Jovany Ruiz-Navarro on its journey. Ruiz-Navarro, a wide receiver on the University at Buffalo football team, is joined by Isaiah Reid, a soccer player from Clemson; Chase Davis, a football player at Alabama; Sophie Housey, a swimmer at Michigan; and Deshun Murrell, a football player at UCLA.

“We started to realize that we could help our athletes monetize through mentorships,” Hetrick wrote on Twitter. “We are now doing something that no one else is doing — connecting college athletes with high school athletes with mentorships. We build our athletes’ websites, conduct funnel building plans, and help them with outreach.”

Hetrick said he connected with Ruiz-Navarro in May. Five months later, Hetrick is convinced that Ruiz-Navarro will have a “big impact” on kids.

“He has continued to have faith,” Hetrick said. “He’s very outgoing on social media, and we said, ‘We’ve got to get him.’

“He’ll be ready to mentor some kids and, hopefully, bring some income in. … He could have a big impact on kids. He’s very likeable, he’s a hard-working guy and he’ll tell them straight-up how to reach their goals.”

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By the end of summer, Hetrick said, Mercsin had to start turning new athletes away. In September, he joined a class at MIT Sloan called New Enterprises, which helps startups grow through a concept of “disciplined entrepreneurship.”

Three classmates were intrigued enough to work with Hetrick in advancing his idea, including two from MIT and one from Harvard University.

“Now things are different,” Hetrick wrote. “We have help from three talented individuals and help from arguably the two best universities in the world. Our professors are committed to us, and we really have a chance now to shake things up. We are going to transform the NIL industry.”

The plan moving forward, according to Hetrick, is to “scale” Mercsin’s group of athletes to 50 with a goal of them making $20,000 per month.

“But, for us, it’s not about the money,” Hetrick writes. “It’s about giving college athletes, who financially struggle, the opportunity to monetize every month from their talents and experiences. It’s about helping young high school athletes with a dream to play in college, who are determined to improve their sport.”

As noted earlier, Hetrick has always been about making dreams become reality, forged initially during his high school days and continued during his time at West Point.

“I just had a belief in what I could do and the people around me,” he said.


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