With each year that passes in college sports, there comes a reloading process.
This is when a team ushers in new recruits from high schools, and Framingham State University is the midst of that.
Among the list of incoming recruits are Valerie Sullivan, Laura Abreu, and Matthew Martino.
Sullivan will be joining the volleyball team that just made it to the MASCAC championship last season and is a top candidate for a role in the Rams’ rotation.
“We have a very talented middle hitter from Buffalo coming in who I think is going to be a really great player for us, hopefully from day one,” coach Richard Casali said in an interview from the Winter.
Sullivan is from Buffalo, New York, and she began playing volleyball her freshman year of high school at Amherst Central.
“My sister, Holly, had played before and I wanted to be able to beat her. So, I joined a club league NFVB, and by my junior year I made their travel team,” Sullivan said.
During her time playing for her high school, Sullivan was named to the Erie County Interscholastic Conference (ECIC) Second-Team twice and was on the varsity team all four years. She was named a captain in her senior year.
“Playing varsity volleyball for Amherst for four years gave me confidence that I can use my skills effectively so that every time I touch the court I can execute plays strategically and quickly,” Sullivan said. “Representing the team as a captain allowed my leadership and positive hard-working attitude to grow.”
In the late stages of the fall, Sullivan connected to Framingham through a student athlete recruiting process called, Next College Student Athlete. This website allows coaches to view game footage and highlights.
Casali talked over the phone with her and scheduled a campus visit shortly after.
“My first impression on Coach Casali is that he loves Framingham and is dedicated to each of his players. He gave me a personal tour and encouraged me to become involved in school academic activities and to fully embrace each year I grow at FSU,” Sullivan said. “He explained and ran over numerous drills the team works on in practice and why I am important to the team. Coach is sincere and extremely knowledgeable, and I am very excited to have him as a coach.”
Then, one of her future teammates, Alyssa Cafarelli, hosted and showed her around the school and Framingham itself, while also taking her to watch the Rams’ women’s basketball team with her other future teammates.
“Alyssa hosted me at her dorm for the night where I had the opportunity to become more familiar with the town and campus,” Sullivan said. “Immediately, I could tell the girls on the team are good role models and all like family.”
Now, she will be dawning black and gold in the fall and fighting for the starting middle role with players like Hayley Sanders and Brandey Rodriguez.
“In my first season with the Rams, I hope to be a valuable player that can be reliable and effective on the court. I hope to learn both on and off skills, and lessons from my teammates and coach to which they can be applied academically,” Sullivan said. “Also, I hope to improve my blocking skills and use all 5 feet 11 inches defensively.”
Abreu will be coming from Methuen to run cross country and track and field.
Like Sullivan, she also started her sport in her first year of high school.
“I started running my freshman year of high school as a way to stay healthy. I had no experience with running whatsoever. However, I still decided to give it a shot,” Abreu said. “Eventually, I fell in love with it and have been running since.”
She spent the next four years running at Methuen High before receiving an email from Framingham cross country coach, Scott VanderMolen
“My experience running at Methuen High was amazing. The coaches there are so supportive and great role models,” Abreu said. “Plus, everyone that I have met through the program has been more than amazing.”
She received an email from VanderMolen in the summer before her senior year. He asked her to visit the school and she did a tour over the summer. Then, she did an overnight stay this past fall and committed recently.
“Since the beginning of the summer and after my tour, FSU always stuck out to me. When I visited the school, I just felt like I belonged there,” Abreu said. “However, throughout my decision making, I did flip flop between schools, but FSU was always at the top.”
Whatever she does at Framingham, you can be certain she’ll be doing a fair share of running.
The third recruit, Martino, is also coming from Methuen, and will be joining the reigning MASCAC championship football team at Framingham.
He began playing football in second grade as his parents had him play to see if he liked it.
“I fell in love instantaneously,” Martino said.
He later would go on to play running back and safety for Methuen High. He tore his ACL twice during his time there, so he didn’t play as much as he wished, but he was named a captain this past season.
He began getting recruited by coach Aynsley Rosenbaum in February and went on a visit afterwards.
“The cost is good compared to other schools, the football team constantly wins, and I can see myself at the school if I were to ever walk away from football,” Martino said. “I expect to play anywhere as I just want to be on the field playing ball and doing what I love.”
Look out in the fall for these three recruits in black and gold Framingham state uniforms.