Fernandes repeats as Player of Year
Andressa Fernandes developed a passion for volleyball as a youngster in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and rekindled her interest in the game several years later at Keefe Technical School in Framingham, where she was a two-time captain and team MVP.
Now a junior captain at Framingham State University, Fernandes has taken her game, and the program, to another level while repeating as the Player of the Year in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Rams, 24-9 under the direction of Richard Casali, captured the MASCAC regular-season title, then established program firsts with a conference tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 tournament. Fernan-des reached 1,000 career kills in the league championship match against Bridgewater State.
The Rams lost in the NCAA’s opening round to New England Small College Athletic Conference power Connecticut College.
“My first coach in Brazil, Christian Rosa, taught me how to push myself and not be afraid of challenges. He also had me play against the older girls,” recalled the 5-foot-9 Fernandes, a six-time MASCAC Player of the Week who led the conference with 438 kills (442 overall) and added 314 digs, 47 aces, and 17 blocks while recording a superb .328 hitting percentage.
“We stay in touch through Facebook, and when our team does well or I receive an award, he tells me how proud he is. It’s great to have that kind of support.’’
Casali, a Framingham State graduate who was voted the MASCAC’s Coach of the Year this season, said Fernan-des has a remarkable arm swing.
“I’ve never coached a woman who gets on top of the ball so well when she serves and hits,’’ said Casali, whose assistant, Medfield native Chelle Manganello, played on his first Rams team nine years ago. “Andressa dominated her league in high school. She wasn’t quite ready for the college game early in her freshman year. But once she got rolling, there was no stopping her.’’
The Fernandes family moved to Framingham when she was 13.
Her father, Andre, and older brother, Raphael, were accomplished soccer players in Brazil. Her younger brother, Andre, was a volleyball captain at Framingham High and is now a sophomore at Framingham State, where he is trying to organize a men’s club volleyball team.
“And my late grandfather was also named Andre, so you can see how I got my first name,’’ said Fernandes, who played on Keefe Tech’s inaugural girls’ varsity volleyball team her junior year, then led it to the MIAA tournament as a senior.
“We lost in the first round but it was a great accomplishment for a new team. I was by far the tallest player on our team so I hit from all over the court,’’ said Fernandes, who has a dream of working at the United Nations.
“But I still had so much to learn about the college game,” she said. “Conditioning was my biggest problem at first, then it was consistency, and this season I got more comfortable in knowing my teammates’ moves and with positioning. Given a choice, I’d rather be a champion than Player of the Year, but both motivate me to be better each year. So seeing my teams succeed at Keefe Tech and now in college have made me super happy.’’
Wellesley hosts first Turkey Trot race
The inaugural Wellesley Turkey Trot 5K and 5-mile road race to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Ellie Fund, and the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project will be held Thanksgiving Day.
The 8 a.m. race, which already had more than 700 participants signed up last week, will begin and end at Linden Square. The 5K course route includes Weston Road, Washington Street, and the Wellesley College campus; the 5-mile course has a stretch alongside Nehoiden Golf Club.
The Ellie Fund was founded by brothers Jeff and Eliot Popkin of Newton in 1995 to honor their late mother, Ellie , and her nine-year battle with breast cancer. The fund provides support services for women and their families.
The Turkey Trot was cofounded by town residents Bob Clare and Carol Chaoui, who connected with Alain Ferry of Racemenu, a nonprofit organization that supports running-related events benefiting cancer charities.
“Last May, I was traveling to Boston to meet with the director of the Susan G. Komen Massachusetts affiliate to discuss October’s Race for the Cure,’’ said Chaoui, who was cochairwoman of last month’s event. “Bob Clare was also on the train and he mentioned how it would be great to have a Thanksgiving Day race in Wellesley.’’
Chaoui, who has run 10 marathons, including five in Boston, met with Wellesley College officials, who agreed to let the course run through the campus. The college, Dunkin’ Donuts, Steward Health Care System, Eastern Bank, and Sports Club/LA are the main sponsors.Continued...