Two years ago, Gianna Piscitelli could have never imagined that she would be sitting at a table filled with balloons signing a college golf scholarship.
A day after the Cocoa Beach native graduated from Eastern Florida State College, she officially signed her letter of intent to attend Southeastern University and play on the women's golf team.
"I didn't expect this at all coming out of high school, I didn't even expect to play college golf at all," Piscitelli said. "I didn't know if I was capable of playing in college, but I just kept grinding and knew that it was what I wanted to do."
As a senior at Cocoa Beach High School, Piscitelli admits playing on the golf team was fun but it was at the Eastern Florida State College P.J. Wilson and Henry Scott Minority Youth Golf Camp when she was awarded the two-year academic scholarship that she began thinking about playing golf in college.
And in the fall of 2017 Piscitelli became the first scholarship recipient to play on the college golf team.
"Camp gave me the ground work, taught me the basics and I already had a relationship with coach Howell," Piscitelli said. "Coming to Eastern Florida was a big step in getting me ready for the next step and now I know I can do this."
Piscitelli played both seasons with the Titans and saw her scores improve every season, culminating in a solid sophomore season for the women's team that finished sixth in the Golfstat NJCAA Top 10 ranking.
"She has come miles, but she put in the work. She bought in to wanting to get better and knowing she could be better and with time and a good plan, she is living proof that you can really improve your game," Howell said. "For us, I will never get to see her best golf, but I know the roots of that have come from Brevard County and at Eastern Florida State College."
And when it came time to see if she could continue her education and play golf, Piscitelli had a couple of options of places to play and study.
"As soon as I stepped on the campus, I knew," Piscitelli said of Southeastern University. "Coming from Eastern Florida I really liked the small community, walking down the halls and seeing people you know and saying hi to teachers and at Southeastern it is exactly like that. The religious aspect fit me, the coach is amazing, the girls on the team were amazing and it just felt like home."
And on Friday she made it official, becoming the first camper to receive the camp scholarship, then join the golf team and move on to a four-year school.
"It's an incredible opportunity for any youngster to come to a summer camp and at the end of it, someone is going to receive a scholarship to go to school for two years," Howell said. "That in itself is mind blowing to me. And if we can spark some interest in them to compete at the collegiate level, maybe someone else follows that path as well."
The 27th annual Eastern Florida State College P.J. Wilson and Henry Scott Minority Youth Golf Camp is scheduled for June 10 to 20 and is open to golfers ages 10-17. The camp is free, but registration is only open until June 7. View the registration info and forms. For more information, contact Sherry Van Winkle by phone at 321-433-7060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org