‘She’s the American Dream’: Haiti earthquake survivor becomes East Bridgewater track star

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EAST BRIDGEWATER — Sasha Feron says the first-hand memories are fuzzy. She was only 4 years old when her life was met at a crossroads.

But the date January 12, and where she was, are the pinpoint details she clings on to from when the catastrophic Haiti earthquake struck her hometown in 2010.

“I feel like I remember bits and pieces, but I was a kid and didn’t really know what was happening,” Feron said. “The building we were in collapsed on us.”

Feron recalls a random man from off the street rescuing her and her cousins from the debris. Her family immigrated to the United States later the same year.

All of this time later, Feron stands in a spot she couldn’t have ever envisioned: set to graduate from East Bridgewater High as a track and field record-holder and Wentworth Institute of Technology commit.

“She’s the American Dream,” said East Bridgewater’s shot put/discus coach Jen Dias.

Feron’s family followed her uncle, Fender Pierre, to Massachusetts in 2010 as he pursued a college degree from UMass Dartmouth. Together, they lived in an apartment in Brockton and, as time went on, Feron took care of her two infant siblings as her mother, Roseline Pierre, took on a rigorous, round-the-clock work schedule at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.

Feron learned to change diapers as a student at Davis Middle School. Playing sports, meanwhile, wasn’t a focus; not even as she went off to Brockton High as a freshman.

But when Feron transferred to East Bridgewater High as an incoming sophomore, it was the civics teacher Dias who saw a potential shot-put talent in Feron, who took inspiration from her mother’s work ethic to dream of pursuing a college career.

“We’re thankful she’s here,” Dias said. “I think (the tragedy in Haiti) made her the person who she is today. It’s built her character and integrity. The fact she’s overcome adversity — as a student-athlete, she’s the role model of what we want to see. The whole package. Top to bottom.”

Feron, a multi-time South Shore League All-Star thrower, broke the school’s shot put record with a 35’11” fling against Middleboro on April 9. The previous high mark of 35’7.5″ was set in 1996 by Dias, who proudly urges that “Records are meant to be broken.”

Feron recorded a 21’4″ at the first meet of her career as a sophomore two years ago. Not satisfied, she prioritized weight-lifting every day after school starting her junior year, on top of juggling an honor-roll academic course load, multiple AP classes, playing varsity volleyball and singing at the Haitian Assembly of God in Brockton three times per week.

That’s quite the hectic schedule.

“Yeah,” Feron said, chuckling. “Very.”

A senior captain, Feron proceeded to finish her final indoor season unbeaten in dual meets with a fifth-place standing at Division 5 states (31-10.75). She set a winter-season school record of 35′, a figure that stood atop the school’s charts since the early 2000’s according to Eaton, who has been involved with the program for 19 years, the last 13 as head coach.

“From Day 1, she’s gotten better and better,” Dias said. “She’s a leader. She’s spunky. You can tell, she’s feisty. She’s confident, super smart and super bright.”

Feron carries a 3.89 GPA and will major in biomedical engineering at Wentworth with hopes of potentially returning to Haiti one day to work in the disease control or prosthetics industries. She hasn’t visited her home country since moving to the U.S.

“She just sets goals and goes to get them,” EB head track coach Ryan Eaton said. “I’ll run into her in 10 years and she’ll have some awesome job doing what she loves to do. She’s that type of person.”

Dias says Feron has “the package to excel” competing at the Division 3 collegiate level due to her strength throwing the shot put in a more stationary power position. Less strong throwers tend to move or glide to generate power, Dias said.

Feron entered the Division 5 state meet weekend ranked No. 2 in the state, behind Martha’s Vineyard junior Madison Mello.

“Her competitive edge, maybe as a sophomore, wasn’t there. As a junior, it was ‘Hey, I’m kinda good at this,'” Dias said. “Now, it’s, ‘These are my events.’ It’s changed. That spark is now a fire.”

“People are always going to be talking about her records because we like doing that in sports, but her attitude is the big thing to me,” Eaton said. “Win or lose, record or no record, I’ll remember that kid for a long time because of how she is.”

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