Nail-biting life: West Forsyth’s Krisalin Coleman-Simon has gone through family heartache and is now shining on the track as well as her nail business

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

Onlookers at a West Forsyth girls track-and-field meet see Krisalin Coleman-Simon and think there is not a thing in the world that could affect her happy-go-lucky personality.
But according to Coleman-Simon, “Track is life.”

Considering at the age of 17, as a senior in high school, she has a thriving side business where she does fingernail decorating, but what could be at the heart of Coleman-Simon knowing how important track and field is to her?

Coleman-Simon’s mother, Kesha Coleman, fell ill in December 2022 while she was teaching children up to age five at The Learning Center in Greensboro.

“She had three brain aneurysms, a stroke and seizure (as well as a heart attack),” Coleman-Simon said of her mother, who is now 44 years old.

Like most teenagers, hearing of your mother falling so severely ill was tough.

“So, I was really going through a hard time,” Coleman-Simon said. “And track was really like a medicine to me. It kept me going. Everything I did between the drills, between just working out with my mom, like, yes, you’ve got to do this for Kesha. You’ve got to do this for your mother. You have to do this for your family.”

Her mother not only taught kids, she was in the process of getting her master’s degree.

“She was a month away from graduating,” Coleman-Simon said of her mother.

As for the day this incident happened, Dec. 12, 2022, Coleman-Simon remembers it vividly.

“The crazy thing is, this story makes me very free when I tell it,” she said. “It was one day, and I overslept through school and my mom had went to work. And my grandma had came and got me. And I was in the car with her, and we get a call (from her mom’s work). It was like, ‘Kesha’s passed out and she’s unresponsive.”

Her mom’s friend, Kim, walked down the hall at the school.

“The crazy thing about it is my mom’s friend, Miss Kim, had came out of her room like 5 minutes (before),” Coleman-Simon said. “Then, later on, she kept complaining. Her head was hurting.

Then, the next thing you know, she had an aneurysm, and they told us she wasn’t going to make it.

“So, I was like broken down. That was a lot for me.”

Kesha Coleman was transferred from Greensboro to Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem.

“In Greensboro, they can’t perform that kind of surgery,” Coleman-Simon said. “Baptist specializes in aneurysms. And the percentage of making it is so low. So, for her to make it, breathe on her own and everything.”

According to Coleman-Simon’s father, Chris Simon, it’s been tough on the family, which includes five children, three of whom are his biological children. Kesha was in the hospital for nine weeks, went to a rehabilitation facility in February 2023 for nine weeks, and was sent home on May 29 of last year.

“Right now, she’s currently getting therapy and all that,” Simon said of his wife. “She can talk to you, but it ain’t like we’re talking right now. You know, she would talk to you every now and then.

“And as far as her walking, she don’t walk, she can’t or nothing like that.”

Even though Kesha Coleman has come a long way from being in a coma, there is still plenty of progress to be made.

“And then they had to take half of her flap off,” Chris Simon said. “That’s half of her skull off so her brain could swell outside of her skull.”

The flap is frozen.

“They put the original one back, but it never fits back the same,” Chris Simon said. “But it’s the original one. Then, she had to get a trach.”

It was a road roughly traveled for the family.

“It went from a happy birthday day, my son’s birthday, to the next day was the worst day the family ever had,” Chris Simon said. “Prayer (has helped). Honestly, I don’t think about it because if you think about it then you’re going to try to dwell on why it happened to her, why it happened to me, because I got into that point where, like a month, and I was just like depressed about it.

“My mom’s a pastor, and she said this was already destined for it to happen to me. She said anybody else would’ve probably just broke, but the Lord already seen that you was able to go through this.”

Chris Simon, through all of this, realizes it’s about Coleman-Simon and the other four children.

“Your kids gotta have a normal life,” he said. “So, I try to make it as normal as possible. I just don’t think about it, man. Pray, and a lot of times on the knees crying if everybody’s asleep.”
It’s hard enough for an adult to deal with something like this. Imagine being a 27-year-old girl in high school like Coleman-Simon.
“I’m living,” she said. “It is absolutely hard because I see other girls with their mom. It’s like mine is at home, so… She comes out, but I want her all the way healed before she (comes to a track meet).”

Her mother is going through the daily grind of doing rehab from home.

“She be sitting up,” Coleman-Simon said. “She be talking. She loves to be like, ‘Hey, girl,’ or ‘Hey.’ That’s her favorite thing.”

Getting on the track each day is like a tonic for her. Coach Nathan Newsome of West Forsyth sees that she’s excelled in the triple jump, but he stated that she wants to try everything.

“It was a topic (her mother) I didn’t know how to broach,” Newsome said. “I know that we started track and she was absent kind of for an extended period of time, and didn’t really communicate on why, which is not unusual. You know, sometimes kids just, they’re kind of flaky about stuff and really don’t know what was going on. And I didn’t hear from her.

“And when I did finally hear from her, I was kind of like, ‘Where have you been? What’s going on?'”

Newsome eventually found out that her mother had been in the hospital.

“But Krisalin was never, ‘Woah is me or anything about it,'” Newsome said. “Almost to the point where I didn’t realize how big a deal it was because she didn’t let on. You know, she didn’t tell everybody else this was going on. So, then, when I got bits and pieces of what she told me, I just stood there with my mouth open.”

According to Coleman-Simon, in a meet against Mount Tabor earlier this month, she was first in the long jump, first in the triple jump, second in the 100-meter run, and second in the 200.

“I think she’s just a pretty good all-around athlete,” Newsome said. “And those kids tend to pick up stuff that’s a little bit more technical, maybe a little bit easier than most. So, I think those type kids, when they try something that’s maybe typically harder for everybody else, that it comes to them a little bit easier.

“They’re able to separate themselves maybe a little more quickly. And I think that’s probably what’s happened.”

She’s so good at the triple jump that Coleman-Simon is qualified for Friday’s Adidas Track Nationals at Virginia Beach.
“I think she probably views herself as being, that that’s her best event,” Newsome said. ”

One of Coleman-Simon’s best friends on the team is Newsome’s daughter, Hope.

“That’s my girl,” Coleman-Simon said. “Without a Hope, there’s no Krisalin.”

Nathan Newsome sees it from a dad’s and coach’s perspective.

“I think she probably enjoys their relationship in regard, from a teammate standpoint, the fact that they do the same events probably makes them a bit more kindred spirits, I think. And I think their personalities. They like each other. Yeah, so that’s a real cool thing.”

It’s a long shot, but there is a chance her mother could come see her in a track-and-field meet before she graduates from West Forsyth in June.

“(It would make me feel) complete,” Coleman-Simon said. “It’s a missing piece. But I always show her videos and stuff.”

Aside from track and field and being a high school senior, Coleman-Simon has a business of nails.

“I’m a home-based nail tech, and I’m 17,” she said. “I’m taking another nail class March 23.”

She’s been practicing nails since she was 12, because as she said, it was something to do after track.

“I started taking clients two years ago, if I’m not mistaken,” she said. “I took a class before with my brother’s girlfriend because she’s certified.”

Coleman-Simon is certified, but she’s on her way to getting her license. She does acrylics, gels, pedicures and she has her online business called Nailpluglinn. She uses TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat.

“Nowadays, kids are really on TikTok,” she said. “That’s like the No. 1 app right now.”

Although the outdoor track-and-field season just began the season will end in May and Coleman-Simon is set to graduate in June with a 3.0 GPA. She said 22 smaller schools are recruiting her so far. She wants to major in criminal justice and pre-law.

“I like arguing,” she said.

But seriously, track and field has given Coleman-Simon hope.

“I’m really good at multi-tasking, like multi-tasking is easy for me,” she said. “A lot of things you would think a track runner could do on their free time, most can’t. In track, I can run, I can throw, I can do distance, I can do hurdles, I can do all of that. Pole vault. And then I live two separate lives.

“I live a track-runner life, and I live a nail-tech life. I live a Krisalin life.”