Two Former Olympians Call Florida Atlantic University Home
More than 10,200 athletes representing 207 countries across the world soon will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As the world prepares to watch the 28th Summer Games hosted in South America for the first time beginning on Aug. 5, two former Olympians – Cherene Castillo and Steve Grotowski – both employees of Florida Atlantic University – reflect back on their once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Castillo is a physical education teacher at A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School at FAU’s Boca Raton campus. Castillo represented her native Canada in the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia playing softball. She was a member of the Canadian softball team from 1993 to 2000.
“I was able to travel the world and receive a full college scholarship, opportunities I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for softball,” said Castillo. “When I first started playing, softball was not in the Olympics so it was not originally a goal of mine, I just played for the love of the sport. Getting the chance to play in the Olympics was truly the experience of a lifetime.”
During her softball career she played in the Pan American Games in 1995 and 1999 and the 1998 World Championship. She graduated from East Central University in Oklahoma where she played collegiate softball and was awarded player of the year in her conference from 1997 to 1999. She has been teaching physical education at A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School since 2008.
Grotowski is the assistant beach volleyball coach at FAU. Grotowski represented his native Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, England playing beach volleyball. He and his partner were Great Britain’s first-ever male representatives at an Olympics for beach volleyball. Growing up in London miles away from Wimbledon, Grotowski originally wanted to be a tennis player. It wasn’t until a high school friend suggested beach volleyball and convinced him to try it.
“The experience of being in the city where I grew up with my family and friends cheering me on was like nothing I have ever experienced,” said Grotowski. “The energy and atmosphere at the games is incredible. I have really enjoyed reliving so many of those moments as the Rio Olympics gears up. It’s hard to believe it was four years ago.”
Prior to the London Olympics, the British Volleyball Federation offered him the opportunity to train with the Beach Volleyball National team. Grotowski traveled all over the world playing on the International Volleyball World Tour. He has played on every continent except Africa. Grotowski joined the FAU coaching staff in 2015.