June 6, 2008

Gerad Hanono: Valedictorian Headed to Stanford

By John Philip Wyllie

“My great-grandparents left Syria to make a better life for themselves in Mexico. They prospered in Mexico, but my grandfather decided to come to this country to seek a better life for my dad and his brothers. They have taken risks in order to help me and my brother and sister succeed. Now I feel like I have to succeed in order to make (their sacrifice) worth it.”

Valedictorian Gerad Hanono was competitive in the pool and unbeatable in the classroom Photo: J.P. Wyllie

Bonita Vista valedictorian and swimmer Gerad Hanono has succeeded. In a school that prides itself on academic excellence Hanono never earned anything less than an “A” in four years of highly demanding courses. He finished with a remarkable 4.61 G.P.A. In the pool this spring he swam well enough to qualify for the CIF tournament and served as an assistant to first year swim coach, Antonio Gallardo. Earlier this year he also excelled in water polo. Whether in the classroom or in the pool, Hanono was there to win.

“My brother and sister have been the biggest factor in my being successful in the pool and in the classroom. My brother Bram, finished fourth in his class, but in the pool he was just amazing. I am not even close (as a swimmer) to what he was. He served as a role model throughout my younger years and especially in high school. He set the bar that I strived to reach and pass. I never caught him in the pool, but in the classroom I edged him. Having somebody to look up to that was so great in everything that he did, made me try even harder to be everything that I could be.”

His parents also played a major role in his success.

“They did what they did for us in order to give us the best chance of succeeding. Everything that they had and everything that they earned they put toward us and making my brother and sister and I better students, better athletes and better people. My mom always jokes (that the reason for our success is that) she never baby-talked to us. She spoke to us when we were little like we were adults. She swears that that had something to do with it. Their expectations were even if we weren’t the smartest or the best athletically that we were going to do our best. As long as we did that they were OK with it. It ended up being that we all excelled in the pool and academically. They taught us that homework and chores come first.”

Hanono pushed himself in the pool this spring and ended up setting personal records in both the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. His times of 2:14 in the IM and 1:00 in the butterfly ranked him in the top 24 in the county and qualified him for postseason CIF competition. He brought a lot more to the pool however than just his speed.

“This year our girl’s water polo coach, Antonio Gallardo took over for (veteran coach) Steve Wiggs after he elected to spend more time with his family. Antonio had never coached swimming before. He knew that I have been a swimmer here for four years and been swimming altogether for nine, so he allowed me to lead stretching and warm-ups and choose who would be in the relays and other events. It was kind of cool to feel more like a coach,” Hanono said.

Hanono will enroll at Stanford in the fall. His only dilemma is which field to pursue. You see, when you are good at everything is creates a mind-boggling number of options.

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