By Zachary Kraft
If you told a 12-year-old boy from Haiti that in the matter of months he would leave his hometown to come to the United States in hopes of new opportunities, he probably would tell you that you were insane. Little did one of Lasell University's top student-athletes, Geralson Withrow, know that this would be the story of his future.
Geralson was born in Haiti in 1997. He grew up on a farm growing crops and raising livestock, and began tending it with his family at the age of five. From there on, Geralson learned that hard work is necessary to lead a successful life.
"Since I was young, hard work is all I know," said Geralson. "It's just what we did every day, being on the farm. I'd wake up every day at five or six and start working all day."
Geralson said that his time on the farm with his father was one of the most influential parts of his life. He said he looked up to his father, as he put in countless hours of physical labor to support his family. These were the key characteristics that Geralson said he wanted to emulate.
After living on the farm life for most of his youth, Geralson's life took a challenging turn once he entered his tween years. Geralson moved into an orphanage in Haiti that was founded to help send its members to America. After staying there for three years, Geralson was adopted by an American family, and headed to the United States.
Once Geralson arrived, he was impressed with how bright America was; there were more lights and people here than in Haiti. Things seemed to move much faster here. As time went on, things didn't go as planned with his adoptive family, and Geralson ended up moving back and forth from various homes. Eventually, Geralson settled in Niantic, Connecticut, where he resides presently.
As Geralson's life began to settle, he was able to focus on his own aspirations. While growing up, he gained experience in both basketball and cross country, basketball being his favorite of the two. After his adopted parents told him they didn't want him to play basketball and focus on cross country, Gerlason felt like he had no choice but to listen.
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a basketball player," Geralson said. "Once my adopted parents didn't allow that to happen, I focused on cross country. I had done it before, but I hated running at the time. Yet, it came natural to me, so I kept at it."
After his impressive performances while running for Ledyard High School, Geralson received an opportunity to run for Newbury College in Brookline, Massachusetts. However, Newbury unfortunately shut down after Geralson's sophomore season during the spring of 2019. Thankfully, this was far from the end of his journey in cross country. Geralson transferred to Lasell for the 2019 fall season where he has thrived ever since.
Geralson has finished as the top runner in every race he participated in for Lasell, including an impressive finish during his first race, a 5K at the Wellesley invitational in the fall of 2019. He placed seventh out of 32 competitors with a time of 17:35.7. He also performed notably well at the GNAC Championship during the same season; where he was the top finisher for the Lasers, placing 26th out of 89 runners on the 8K course in a time of 29 minutes, 37 seconds.
Geralson's coach, Michael McGrane, has nothing but praise in regards to how he feels about Geralson's presence on the team.
"Geralson has been a pleasure coaching the past two seasons." McGrane said. "He has developed not only as a stronger and faster runner but also the knowledge of his own training capacity. He has pushed himself to reach a new level as a seasoned collegiate distance runner, incorporating the aspects of training to improve his running economy with better efficiency. He upped his game with consistent core stability, strength training, and increased his volume of running distance to make big gains to finish off his senior year at Lasell in cross country and track and field. I have no doubt Geralson's success will continue beyond his collegiate years as he matures athletically and challenges himself in his training and racing."
Geralson said it would be his dream to run in the Olympics or in a marathon, and expressed how dedicated he was to training to achieve these goals. Meanwhile, he is completing his undergraduate studies in graphic design, an area he believes he can perform equally as well in as running. Geralson's long and trying journey to the United States should serve as an inspiration to all, and it will be a treat to see how he will improve on his performance once he is able to take on a race again.
(Zachary Kraft is a senior Communications major at Lasell with an emphasis on Public Relations and Sports Writing, and an intern in the Athetic Communications Office)