Interview with top ranked discus thrower in the nation, Stamatia Scarvelis

Dos Pueblos senior, Stamatia Scarvelis (photo courtesy of, is currently ranked 1st in discus (172'7") and 2nd in the shot put (53'3.5") in the nation.  She has also achieved PRs in previous seasons in other events including the 100m. hurdles (16.44), long jump (16'10") and triple jump (34').  Quite an athlete and definitely one fo the all time best throwers in California history.  She will attend UCLA next year.

1) How did you get your start in Track and Field? What other sports did you participate in before and during high school?
My brothers were involved in track and field, and I remember going to their meets at a young age. They were members of Santa Barbara Youth Track Club, and the club was part of the Ventura County Youth Track Association.  There were meets every Saturday during the spring, and it was fun.  I joined in 3rd grade and believe it or not I ran the 800M and 1500M.  Later I got involved in multis, which I loved, and that’s when I started throwing.  Other sports were club basketball and club volleyball, but track won out.  It’s my first love.
2) Aside from the shot put and discus, what other events have you done in track? What would you say is your best and/or favorite event outside of the throws?
In high school I’ve done, sprints, jumps, hurdles, throws and relays.  Besides the throws, 100M hurdles was my favorite event, but I also loved being part of our 4X100 team.  Since the middle of my junior year, however, I have focused exclusively on throwing.   
3) When do you feel you made the biggest gains in your throws and what were the biggest factors for those gains?
Biggest gains in SP were made in my sophomore year, and the reason is my coach, Kent Pagel.  He told me that I could be good as a multi-event athlete, but I had the best opportunity for success as a thrower.  We worked very hard that first year and I went from 39’ to 49’ in that season.  I made big gains in the discus in my junior year, mostly because I took the event more seriously.
4) Tell us a little about your coaches and how they helped you develop to your current level.
They are fantastic.  Kent Pagel is coach of the former American record-holder in the shot put, Ramona Pagel, who’s also his wife.  He’s coached at LSU, San Diego State and a number of other NCAA Division I programs, and I couldn’t ask for a better coach. Meeting him was a life-changing experience.  He’s provided a very good foundation in throwing technique, of course, but also in lifting, especially Olympic lifts, which is very important for throwers.  Both he and Ramona have been fantastic – Coach provides the strategy and day-to-day coaching, but Ramona has mentored me as an athlete, helping me understand what it takes to compete at a high level.  
5) What does a typical week look like for you? How often do you throw? Lift? What else do you do that you feel help you compete at a higher level?
During the summer, we train six days a week, and training is done throughout the day … lifting, throwing, core, running. Off-season we focus on one event per day:  SP Mon and Wed, DT, Tue and Thu, and we lift four days a week.  Most of my lifting is Olympic, and since it is impossible to find that equipment in most gyms, my parents bought a York rack and bumper weights for our garage. That’s where we lift, year around.  During the summer it gets crazy as my brothers get home and we get college athletes and my high school team mates all working together and later relaxing in the pool.  It’s fun.
6) You are currently undefeated in the outdoor season. What are your goals for the rest of the season and what is your biggest motivation to keep throwing further?
“Three-peat” as state champion, pick up a discus title, repeat my national title and hopefully make USA World Juniors team.  My biggest motivation is to better myself every day and compete at the highest level.  
7) You chose UCLA. What factors went into that decision and how many other schools were also in the mix?
I was very fortunate to have gotten interest from many schools, and I narrowed the list down to five.  There were so many great colleges and universities and so many good coaches, it was very hard to make the choice.  UCLA came out on top as having the best over-all package of location, university reputation and coaching.  I’m trying to figure out if my brother Nick being there is a plus or minus … but seriously, having him there is terrific because he’s such a great training partner and team-mate
8) A lot of track and field athletes are familiar with a warm-up for running events. What does your warm-up look like before throwing the shot and discus?
For major competitions, warm-ups are extended over at least an hour – stretching, A skips, B skips, short sprints, drills.  Coach Ramona has stressed a consistent warm-up routine for every day and carrying that over to every competition.    
9) What is your advice for a future thrower who is just getting started with the sport?
Love what you do.  There will be good days and bad days, but you must be willing to work very hard.  It’s harder than what people make it out to be, but be patient and have fun.