When Stametia Scarvelis first started throwing, she hated it.
“I didn’t want to be a part of it. My parents made me throw it once and I got like last place and I never wanted to do it again," Scarvelis said.
She's clearly warmed up to the sport. Scarvelis broke her own school record for the hammer throw on April 28 at the SEC relays. The mark was 214 feet and one inch, good for eighth in the nation at that point.
She will compete with the Vols at the SEC Outdoor Championships, starting on Thursday in Columbia, South Carolina.
Scarvelis started running track in kindergarten, following in the footsteps of her older brothers. She competed in the pentathlon as a youth and had to throw the shot put in that event.
Eventually, her coach told her she had more potential in throwing.
"As I got older and tried it a couple more times, I started to take it more seriously," Scarvelis said.
She got good enough to join her brother Nick on the UCLA track team.
"When I was a freshman in college, some Greek coaches facebook messaged my brother and they said, 'we noticed that you're Greek, you have Greek names, would you like to compete for Greece,'" Scarvelis recalled.
Stametia’s grandparents were born in Greece and still have family there. She traveled with Nick to their ancestral homeland and received Greek citizenship to begin competing for the national team.
Nick qualified for the Rio Olympics and Stametia went along with him to Brazil in the summer of 2016.
“His coach wasn’t able to make it so I got to be down there in front of it all," Stamatia said. "Obviously I wasn’t coaching him but it was just a familiar pair of eyes to watch him. I got to be right down there in the middle of it and it was a really cool experience. Seeing him accomplish that was really awesome."
At the time, she was looking to transfer schools because UCLA wasn’t a good fit.
Tennessee’s throwers stood out to Stametia and she met the Vols throwing coach John Newell in the Olympic stadium in Rio.
Everything happened pretty quickly from there.
"I came on my visit about two weeks after school had started and then I had about one or two days to decide if I wanted to come here or not but I decided to come and flew back here on a plane."
And now, just eight months later, her name is etched in the Tennessee record books.
Stamatia has competed for Greece in the European Championships and plans to compete with the Greek national team again this summer when the college track and field season concludes.
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