As the list of textbooks, deposits, and other expenses continues to grow for incoming college freshmen, every earned dollar becomes more essential.
But for Charlestown’s Sara Centeio, receiving a $3,000 Boston Globe scholarship known as the Boston Globe/Richard Phelps Scholar Athlete award means more than its dollar value. It represents how her passion for sports paved the way not just for her success but also the unification of her with her 15 older siblings.
“We’re all separated,” said Centeio, who lives with only five of those siblings. “Once they got to know who I really was, it’s an amazing feeling to have your family know exactly what you love to do.”
With a lack of communication between Centeio and her siblings, none of them were really aware of her love for soccer and basketball. But once one sister witnessed one of Centeio’s basketball games, she immediately obtained film to show the rest of the family.
What they saw was a small piece of what would be an amazing career for the Holy Cross-bound senior.
Centeio was an all-star all four years on the basketball team and in her sophomore and junior years on the soccer team. As a freshman, she was voted Charlestown’s student-athlete of the year. As a senior, she led the basketball team in scoring at 19.5 points per game.
She did it all while maintaining a 4.82 GPA and recently graduated second in her class.
“Being the youngest of 15 children, one may find it difficult to be unique or stand out, but one student manages to defy this stereotype with flying colors,” said Centeio’s guidance counselor, Kristyn Hughes. “Sara Centeio does anything but fly under the radar. She is one of the most outgoing, vibrant, and top-notch students I have ever worked with in my 10 years as a guidance counselor.”
As Centeio achieved more and more on the court and the playing field, she noticed a growing presence among her siblings. One of her brothers, who is based in Brockton and to that point had been practically absent in her life for years, reached out to her upon hearing of the scholarship.
“The scholarship definitely kind of made him come back to me and made him realize he’s missing out on a lot in my life,” Centeio said.
She also noticed her siblings beginning to form stronger relationships among each other.
“All my accomplishments have them recognizing me now and they’re talking to each other about it,” Centeio said. “Before, everyone was doing their own thing and they didn’t talk to each other as much.”
It wasn’t the first time Centeio’s efforts unified people for a common cause. In her freshman year, she was one of the leaders in the push to create Charlestown’s first girls’ soccer team.
Not only did she achieve her goal but the team went undefeated.
“That was really memorable for me because we made history," she said, "and it was just an amazing feeling for the Charlestown community."
Centeio established herself as one of Charlestown’s premier athletes while making strides in the classroom, too. She became a member of the National Honor Society and never got a grade lower than a B in her high school tenure.
“Sara takes her place as the top scholar-athlete I have known,” said Charlestown American Studies teacher Steve Cassidy. “She personifies this term with her bulldog-like approach to athletic competition, academic work, and school leadership.
“No obstacle is too big for her to tackle.”
At Holy Cross in the fall, Centeio hopes to walk on to both the soccer and basketball teams – she loves both sports too much to choose one.
Hughes has no doubt she will overcome any challenge the future holds.
“She has a grit and determination to complete any task and remain in the highest percentile while doing so,” Hughes said. “No matter what the challenge or subject, Sara Centeio prevails. She is truly an inspiration to me as a strong, independent female.”
About Boston Public Schools Sports BlogMore »
- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.