From the Pool to the Track

By Ella Gilson
Date 30 6 22

What is the life of an elite athlete like?

Ella Gibson is a cross country athlete, studies and competes within the Harvard team and is currently in Valencia doing their Marketing internships in patronus. Do you want to know its history? She tells us.

One of the first things I am asked when people find out that I am an athlete and I run in the cross country at Harvard is, "How did you start running?"

My answer is easy, I started competing in cross country or cross country when I was in fifth grade, to complement my swimming training. Then one thing led to another and now I'm a D1 college runner. However, it has not been an easy journey and to reach this level in athletics requires a lot of dedication, motivation and determination.

Sport is something that I have always carried within me since I was very little. Before running, swimming had been my main sport and also what I thought would be my future. When I started getting involved in athletics, I was only in fifth grade and I loved swimming. It was one of my swim teammates who told me that she had joined the cross country team at the local Catholic school and I decided to join her.

Dedication, motivation and determination.

First cross country races

I really didn't like running at first, I only ran about twice a week, after my swimming, field hockey and lacrosse workouts, so by the time I got to cross country after all those hours of sports, I was already dead. But over time and even though I wasn't very committed to cross country running I started to win some CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) state titles without realizing what running would mean in the next chapters of my life.

Combine studies and sports career

But in addition to taking sports seriously, I also take my studies and my future seriously. When I began my search for a high school, I wanted one that could give me not only the best education in athletics, but also be excellent academically, so I ended up choosing Hawken High School, which is nationally ranked among the best private high schools. from the country.

At Hawken I was going to study alongside my swimming career since our girls swim team had just won their 19th straight state championship title but a few weeks before my first day at Hawken, my parents were approached by the head cross country coach to ask them to attend cross country.

I was terrified of giving up the pool and devoting my time and energy to putting on my cross country shoes and training as an athlete and was therefore very hesitant at first to join the cross country team.

But eventually, I joined the track and cross country teams, and ended up being a five-time individual state champion in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track as well as four golds on state swim and relay teams.

When I realized, the level required was so high that I had to choose between running or swimming at the University, and finally I chose to run. However, I ran into a major hurdle as I finished high school and began the University recruiting process…COVID-19.

The great global pandemic directly affected me and all the goals I had set for myself, although seen in perspective, I am very grateful for the opportunities that arose after the pandemic. COVID took away experiences in life that I can never get back, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

The process of choosing the University was not at all what I imagined it would be. First of all, I wasn't allowed to have any official visits or meet any of my coaches in person, because I had to commit to a school first. In addition, the quarantine added the multiple telephone interviews, the records and the zoom meetings.

Harvard University

During this process, many of the best schools in the country chose me, but I had my sights set on attending an Ivy League school, so  after talking to all the ivy league schools, that's when my current coach at harvard started recruiting me.

It was too unbelievable to be true, but that's when I knew that Harvard was the perfect fit for me. My coach and my teammates bet on me and of course the University too, so it was one of the most exciting moments of my life, committing to Harvard, the school of my dreams.

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