By Adam Levine
Richard Casali, 69, finished his 20th season as the head volleyball coach this season and is a member of the Rams’ Class of 1977.
He also began as the full-time equipment & operations manager in 2014.
Casali said he became involved with volleyball as a student playing intramural volleyball at FSU.
Originally from Framingham, Casali said he played baseball and football at Framingham South High School.
He said he played baseball at FSU and every intramural sport they offered.
Casali said intramural sports on campus were “very competitive” during his time as a student.
He said groups of students formed their own teams to compete together across all sports.
Casali said teams would earn points by winning different games in different sports. At the end of the year, the team who earned the most points won the Morocco Cup.
It was a “huge” athletic trophy and the winning team would have their name put on it, he said.
Casali said his team won the volleyball intramural championship one year and was invited to play against Westfield’s varsity volleyball team.
They “absolutely destroyed us,” he said. “But I figured out that this is exactly how I want to play the sport - the same way that the Westfield varsity does. So I've been working at it ever since - since I was here as a student.”
Casali said he grew up close to campus and “always wanted to come to college here.”
He said he graduated with a degree in sociology and a minor in history.
Casali said, “Well, my original plan was to teach history.
“But as time went on, I didn't want to do that anymore.
“So, my original plan with that degree was to get the hell out of college and go get a job,” he added.
Casali said, “I never would have left if they would have let me stay.”
Casali said when fellow FSU classmate and current athletic director, Tom Kelley, asked him to coach Rams’ volleyball, “I said, ‘No.’ I didn’t want to do that.
“And then a year later he called me and said, ‘Look, we're still looking for a coach. Come out to talk to us.’
“Once I walked on campus - I knew in the interview - I knew I was going to come back,” he added.
Casali said his favorite part about coaching are the athletes. “I miss them when they’re gone.”
He said his favorite memory from his coaching career was becoming the first Rams’ head coach to win 300 games.
“That was good because I didn't know it. I don't keep track of things like that,” Casali said. “If you're around long enough, you're gonna get 300 wins. And I've been around a long time.”
Casali earned his 300th career win over MCLA.
He said, “The coach said, ‘Well, congratulations.’ I said, ‘Well, you already congratulated me.’ She said, “No. No. I mean, congratulations for that.’”
Casali said he turned around and saw his players and coaches holding a sign the athletic department made to commemorate the occasion. “I don't think I actually cried, but it was darn close.”
Casali gave praise to his assistant coaches - “We’re nothing without our assistants.”
One of the team’s assistant coaches, Chelle Manganello ’04, played for Casali during his first season as the head coach.
Casali said, “A couple of years later I hired her back. She's been with us ever since.
“She’s a cop. She’s a tough person,” he added.
He said Assistant Coach Brian Gerard is “like the sounding board” for the athletes to talk to.
Casali said the volunteer coaches, Deidre Fay and Sydney Rice, also add to the program.
“It's a really good mix of things,” he said. “We all have a personality and it plays off each other”
Casali said he wants to coach until his early 80s.
He said, “As long as they have scooters to let me get around, then I'll be good.
“I like coming to work and doing this every day,” Casali added.