A positive attitude and great work ethic is all you need.
That’s the philosophy that weight and hammer thrower Chris Celona buys into as an accomplished collegiate athlete with the men’s track and field team for Iowa State, and as a co-president of the Student Athlete Advisory Board.
“So basically, our main premise is to serve as like a liaison between the student athletes and the administration at Iowa State,” Celona said about the Student Athlete Advisory Board.
They also serve that same purpose for the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA. They handle legislative issues with the Big 12 Conference and they do service projects to help give back to the Ames community.
For all of Celona’s hard work and dedication, he was announced as one of the winners for the Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award at Iowa State which is an award given to seniors who have been recognized for their great achievements in academics, and the community while demonstrating high character.
Celona has been able to put in more than 100 hours of community leadership and starting numerous charitable events and donations, while maintaining a high GPA and competing for the Cyclone track and field team. It’s hard to find something he hasn’t done.
“In athletics, I see him as a great leader… everybody looks up to him,” said fellow senior hammer thrower Brett Peters. “It’s hard not to like him.”
Peters is in his second year with the Iowa State track and field team and he looks at Chris as a great leader on the team.
Celona undoubtedly impacts a lot of his teammates with his character and his demeanor. Perhaps no one is impacted more than junior thrower Vlad Pavlenko.
Pavlenko has been the best weight and hammer thrower for Iowa State this year, and actually set the Iowa State record in the weight throw earlier in the year. Many forget that he was just a walk-on and he credits Celona for helping him with a lot of his accomplishments.
“If [Celona] wasn’t on the team when I tried out, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the spot,” Pavlenko said.
Whether that is true or not, it is astounding how much respect Celona garners which is one of the big reasons that he won the Wallace E. Barron Award and why he has accomplished so many things in his time at Iowa State.
To name a few other accomplishments, he has won the Cyclone Scholar-Athlete Award, he was First Team Academic All-Big 12, and he was on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
And for Pavlenko, he is much more than just a teammate.
“He’s one of my great friends… Every award he wins, he’s frickin’ deserved it,” Pavlenko said.
Of course, Celona did not just win this award because of his outstanding success in the athletic field, but also for all the volunteering and academic success he has seen.
Celona has helped orchestrate events like the CyCans, which is a food drive for the Food Bank of Iowa which is a charitable food donation organization, and the Soles4Souls shoe drive in which he actually traveled to Haiti and was able to see the difference he made.
“He’s just a very well-rounded student,” said student-athlete affairs coordinator Joanna Beaton, who nominated Celona for the award. “He doesn’t say no.”
Celona also does weekly service projects such as reading to kids at schools, among other work with the Ames community, especially with school children in the area. He also is able to get other Iowa State students involved in these activities as well.
Beaton speaks highly of his character and his work ethic, as he is someone who works really hard while balancing a seemingly endless amount of responsibilities.
“He’s very well-respected by his peers, he’s very diligent in his work, and he takes pride in what he does,” Beaton said. “He’s a really good representation of not only Iowa State athletics, but of the university as a whole.”
Celona is speaking at the student-athlete graduation ceremony as well.
With all of the juggling between academics, athletics, and community service, Celona gives his advice for those struggling with a lot on their plates.
“Don’t be afraid to throw yourself in the deep end of the pool,” Celona said. “Don’t be afraid to get out there and see what happens.”