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July 28, 2014

Bloomfield Hills graduate, Pilibosian, has signed on to swim for NCAA Division I program

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Bloomfield Hills graduate, Pilibosian,  has signed on to swim for NCAA Division I program
Bloomfield Hills High graduate Mary Pilibosian, right, is pictured with her former Motor City Aquatics teammate, Alysse Fischer, along with Aquatics head coach Bill Thompson. Pilibosian has signed to swim for Oakland University.

Bloomfield Hills High School graduate Mary Pilibosian has earned the opportunity to swim at the NCAA Division I level, as she has signed with Oakland University.

Through her junior year in high school, Pilibosian swam for Bloomfield Hills Lahser before the school consolidated with Andover prior to her senior season. Aside from her experience with Lahser, she also swam for the Motor City Aquatics swim club.

Some of Pilibosian’s accomplishments have included being a Michigan high school state champion in the 200-yard intermediate medley, a Michigan Open champion in the 400, and a two-time Michigan state team champion.

Pilibosian has signed with a program that has enjoyed a lot of success over the years, as Oakland’s women’s teams have won 23 of 24 conference meets and five national championships, which were won when the program competed at the NCAA Division II level.

Pete Hovland is the coach of Oakland’s men’s and women’s programs, and has been with the school since 1979. Although Pilibosian is yet to compete for the Golden Grizzlies, she has already thought about the chance to swim for Hovland.

“I’m very excited to be swimming for him,” she said. “He’s such a great coach. His training, I think, will help me a lot in the long-run.”

Pilibosian referenced support she has received from her family, Motor City Aquatics head coach Bill Thompson and assistant head coach Ray Onisko, as well as teammates, including Alysse Fischer and Alessandro Guttilla, who were her teammates with the Aquatics. She also acknowledged support from former Lahser teacher and swim coach Mike Rado, who passed away last February.

“He saw the potential in me,” she said. “He would always be there for me.”

Rado was a part of what Pilibosian cited as her favorite high school swimming memory.

“My sophomore year coming into states, I was seeded second in the 200 IM,” she said. “I remember Rado giving me this big pep talk. I was like half a body length ahead and then ended up getting touched out in the freestyle leg and got second. And then the most memorable words I remember him saying to me were like, ‘We got it next year.’ Coming into my junior year with him, we had this goal set.

“Coming into states that junior year, I remember touching the wall at that freestyle, being so happy that all this hard work paid off — I finished my goal, won the 200 IM, and him giving me my medal on the podium. That was probably the best moment of my whole high school career with Rado.”

Some of the lessons Pilibosian indicated she has already learned through athletics could become even more valuable for after she steps into her role as an NCAA Division I athlete.

“Some of the big ones were dedication and time management,” she said. “In order to get better and keep doing what you love, you have to be dedicated. No one wants to get up in the morning before school, go swim for two hours, and then go to school for seven hours. If it’s something you love, you have to be dedicated. And that also came along with time management. When we would get a break from swimming, I would come back home, watch TV and do leisure stuff. And then it would be like nine o’clock — ‘Oh, I should start my homework now.’

“But having swimming, you have to be on this time schedule to get things done in order to keep training. Another big thing I learned from my coaches was how to get back up when you’re not doing as good as you’d like. If you have a bad race, you need to stop after that race and put that to the side because you have three more races to go that day. You don’t have time to think about that one bad thing. You need to move on and get ready for your next event.”

Signing on to an NCAA Division I program can qualify as a life-changing opportunity, and it is one that Pilibosian seems to have embraced.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’ve talked to some of the girls; I’ve met some of the incoming freshmen. It’s just really exciting for me because I love meeting new people and becoming friends with more people. Their swim team is amazing. I’m really excited to start training with them.”

Pilibosian has been admitted to Oakland’s Honors College.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.