As an eighth-grader, Celeste Pipia wasn’t thinking much about shot put.
She was a goalie on the Sewanhaka Indians junior high girls soccer team, when coach Jamie Celona noticed Pipia’s strength. Eventually, Celona suggested to Pipia to take a physical test and try out for shot put for the varsity track and field team.
Almost five years later and Pipia has taken full advantage of that opportunity.
In June, Pipia announced that she has received a partial athletic scholarship to play shot put and discus for the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a NCAA Division I program.
“She has a deep-seated desire to want to get better,” said Sewanhaka varsity track and field coach Michael Nola. “Few high school athletes have that.”
After making the varsity team in 2010, Pipia’s shot put skills soon caught the attention of Nola.
“When she was starting to get at 34 (feet), 35, you can tell something special was happening,” Nola said. “She was always serious about it. Then she turned it up a notch and there was no looking back.”
Pipia concluded her senior season in June by making a fourth appearance in the New York State Track and Field Championships at Syracuse. She finished 13th in Shot Put with a throw of 38 feet and 4 inches.
The spring before, Pipia finished fifth with a throw of 40 feet and 1 inch at the state championships at Middletown.
Pipia says those appearances at the NYS tournaments stand out when looking back at her time at Sewanhaka.
“Being up at states and having the Sewanhaka uniform on; being able to throw with the best throwers in the state; and also being able to put Sewanhaka track back on the map was great,” Pipia stated.
Soon, Pipia will have the UMASS-Lowell uniform on. On her official visit last fall, Pipia said the school’s hospitality caught her attention.
“(Assistant) coach (Barbara Smith) made me feel like I was at home,” Pipia said. “They were all very welcoming, they showed me around, and then at night they had a family dinner with all the throwers.
They really just made me feel like a part of the team before anything was official.”
Pipia plans on studying exercise physiology and has plans to get her doctorate in physical therapy. She was also considering University of New Haven, Adelphi University, Franklin Pierce College and Quinnipiac University.