“Coach G” leaving QU track after graduation
In her small shared athletic office, Greta Ona Kotryna Pileckaite originally from Kaunas, Lithuania disclosed her international journey to becoming the track and field graduate assistant at Quincy University.
“I come from a very athletic family, my mom played handball on the Soviet Union national team. My dad played soccer and basketball his whole life, my grandpa was a basketball player. Growing up I had to pick a sport or activity, something so I wouldn’t be staying at home, that was my parents rule growing up. And I picked basketball at the time. I played on the national team and then when I played under 16, the coaches from the United States started talking to me. Eventually I got an opportunity to come to high school here at Liberty Christian Academy to play basketball, so that’s what I did,” Pileckaite said.
Pileckaite spent much of her childhood traveling around Europe due to being on multiple national basketball teams at a young age. So being away from home was not a fairly new concept to her when she came to the United States for her high school education.
“I think the biggest thing for me was the language. So being as English is a second language, for the first three months it was a very different experience. I did not necessarily speak English at the time,” Pileckaite said.
Pileckaite now fluently speaks four different languages including Lithuanian, Russian, German and English. Originally she only played basketball, however being an international high school student she was made to be involved in school sports year round. Which is how she was introduced to the sport of track and field.
“In the spring they wanted me to do softball, but I didn’t really like running like that, so they asked me to do track because all the previous years our track team lost state by one point. The coach said that he saw so much potential in me being a thrower, even though I didn’t take it seriously, but I’m very competitive. So I was just, you know, trying to win, then ended up breaking a school record. And winning state in both discus and shot put. Then I got a full-ride scholarship to go to Kennesaw University,” Pileckaite said.
She went on to find greater success at the Division I university in the highly competitive NCAA Atlantic Sun Conference winning conference in the weight throw, hammer throw and shot put. But she still describes feeling as though her greatest memories stem from her team’s achievement of being team conference champions in the outdoor season.
“So I’ve always had a passion for giving back to the community. I also have very strong faith and I prayed over it for a long time. That’s another reason why I chose Kennesaw State University, because of my faith. It was leading me towards the decision of being a graduate assistant. It is rewarding even though sometimes it seems like a curse at the same time, but I’ve always wanted to kind of encourage other people and help them find the best version of themselves. Whether it’s on the track, whether it’s in the classroom or whatever the case may be,” Pileckaite said.
“How much she’s willing to help people is what people don’t really see. People have probably seen her help one person, but I’ve witnessed her help everyone. Even go out of her way to help everyone. She’s a caregiver, like she will take care to make sure everything’s running and goes above and beyond to just make sure her athletes are okay,” Jenna Knudson said.
Knudson, the women’s basketball graduate assistant, shares an office space with Pileckaite. The two often can be seen conversing in the small office and often give advice to both teams’ athletes.
“I say that she goes pretty far, above and beyond! I think she understands that it’s more than just being an athlete here at Quincy University. That she does anything that she can in the best way possible to set you up for greatness,” Faith Haggard said.
Haggard, who is on the women’s track and field team, explains that she always goes to Pileckaite for advice on and off the track. She explains that this is a sentiment many of the women on the team feel, as well as conveying that Pileckaite, nicknamed “Coach G” is someone that almost all of the team has confided in with personal problems. As of now, Pileckaite will be graduating Quincy University with her graduate degree after the end of this semester.