Alumni Stories

Nov 05


November 5, 2018 | 11:45 am

According to a study released by USA Triathlon, only 3.2 % of triathletes are Hispanic and 0.5 % are African-American. In an effort to close the diversity gap, Edel Borrero ’87 and five other Latino athletes created TriLatino Triathlon Club, Inc., a nonprofit organization that introduces athletes of color to the competitive sport. “Every time, I would attend triathlons, I didn’t see many people of color or Latino communities well represented. I saw a need for this sport to be brought to minority athletes.” With the help of fellow alumnus and Hayes board member Hector Jimenez’ 95, Borrero brought TriLatino Jr. to Hayes.

Christopher Feliciano, Danso Kuzoe-Jones, Michael Maturana, Steven Truong and Wilber Diaz Grullon took part in a six-week training process where they learned that the sport is more about mental acuity than physical endurance. Senior Michael Maturana, first learned about TriLatino in his Honors English Class. Maturana had no athletic experience prior to the program but felt compelled to try something outside of his comfort zone. “The ability to give myself to these coaches was so hard. I watched how much I’ve learned and grown since the beginning of the program all because I gifted myself to them. They accepted and used that gift and they handled it with respect. Now I think about other aspects of my life differently. I don’t take for granted those people that I see waking up early in the morning for a jog. I had to do that. There’s so much that goes into training behind the scenes. It taught me that I must have self-respect and work for what I want.”

Danso Kuzoe-Jones joined TriLatino to improve his physical abilities. “At the beginning of my senior, year I wanted to focus on developing a fitness routine. I know that sports helps with mental sharpness. This was something that I wanted to improve. I was eager to have a balance of athletics and academics.” For Danso, the relationship between the trainers and his teammates was transformative. “The program has made me more independent. I learned how to balance my life and focus on time management. My mentors played a major part in getting me through this process. I also got closer to my classmates Michael and Wilbur. We were always pushing each other to do better and saying words of encouragement.”

Junior Wilbur Diaz Grullon who received first place in his age division not only conquered his fear of water but became more confident and self-assured. “I was always afraid of the water when I was growing up. My dad used to play tricks on me and throw me into the water upside down. Over the weeks of practice, I became more comfortable. Now I can hold my own in the water.” Grullon also benefited from the personal guidance of his trainer. “My mentor Gabriel Herrera took me under his wing. We could relate to each other because he experienced the same physical and emotional stress that I’ve gone through.” On June 17, 2018, after spending weeks of swimming, biking and running Wilbur and his teammates unleashed their inner athlete at the TriOne On Triathlon in Rosyln, Long Island.

Since its inception in 2010, TriLatino has attracted other schools in the community. Aside from Cardinal Hayes, they have partnered with Cathedral High School in Manhattan and the Bronx Academy of Letters. Their goal for the next few years is to expand the program to more schools and increase female participation. Although they have made tremendous strides in bringing the program to communities of color, Elias Marenco ’96, President of TriLatino expressed some of the challenges in running a nonprofit. “This program is run entirely with the help of volunteers and even the board doesn’t get paid. We have no paid employees. It’s a labor of love. This year we started a committee and brought in other people including Michelle Borrero, Edel’s wife. Michelle was our operational leader and she made sure that we were on time with the logistical aspect of running the program.”

Borrero has high hopes for TriLatino and wants to use this platform as a way to empower young people. “I want our students to encapsulate this experience so that they know that there is nothing that they cannot do for themselves.”

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