Nov. 8, 2001
When collegiate recruiters came knocking on Cerina Pele’s door she not only had to choose between schools, she had to choose between sports. Fortunately for Florida State the 5-10 Gardena, California native chose to play volleyball and chose to do so in Tallahassee. Since the seventh grade Cerina played both volleyball and softball. Although it was difficult for her to give up softball her heart told her to concentrate on volleyball.
The accolades she garnered while at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance, California surely helped her to make her decision. Not only did Cerina lead her high school volleyball team to the CIF Division 3 state finals she was named the 1999 CIF Co-Player of the Year. And she didn’t stop there. Cerina continued to lead her club team, the Spoilers, to a third place finish in the 1999 USA Volleyball Junior Olympics while being selected to the all-tournament team. This alone is impressive but you should also know she did all of this while maintaining a 3.7 GPA.
When Cerina sets goals for herself and her team she doesn’t settle for anything small. When asked what her main goal is she answers, “We want to win the ACC tournament.” On her way to achieving this goal she’s made a good start. Against Fresno State this season she tallied a career-high six kills and 28 attacks. The young sophomore who has played in 90 games in 2001, 12 more than last season has compiled 58 attacks, 128 digs and 14 set assists.
Ask Cerina what’s been the biggest transition from high school to collegiate play and she’ll tell you having her dad in the stands. He has always been her biggest fan and missing him in the stands has bothered her. “We have gone through so much together and I miss him when he’s not there.” But you can bet he’s there in heart. In addition to her dad she misses her friends and other family members. After all California isn’t just a skip down the road. But she has come to realize that the FSU volleyball team is now her family.
Senior member Norisha Campbell has taken the lead role in helping Cerina’s adjustment. “She has a great personality on and off the court. Because of the presence that she brings it makes me feel more comfortable at my position” notes Cerina. And although Norisha stands out Cerina knows she owes a lot to the other veteran members of her team. “I have learned a lot of maturity through them. The way they handle themselves on the court has taught me a lot of discipline and self-composure.” One quote Cerina turns to most is “Be true to yourself.” Following this interview and all that I have learned it is easy to see that she is already a true Seminole.
Head Coach Cecile Reynaud is not to be overlooked when Cerina gives thanks to those who have helped her. “Coach Reynaud has taught me how to look at the positive side of things.” “When it comes to being on the court and the way we speak to each other she encourages positive feedback. She’s taught me the importance of picking up a player when they may be feeling down and how to keep them focused.”
Off the court Cerina is just as impressive. The student-athlete is majoring in communications and hopes to one day produce movies and write scripts upon graduation. Named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll she has only marked the beginning of her collegiate success.