TAMPA — Previous Tampa Prep volleyball coach Carol Chalu, who helped craft the Terrapins software into a condition dynasty whilst doubling as the school’s athletic director, handed absent very last Wednesday following a prolonged fight with Alzheimer’s Condition.
The 1st female athletic director in the state and a member of the Florida Significant Faculty Athletic Affiliation Hall of Fame, Chalu was 71 and experienced been residing in Largo. The Tampa Prep volleyball court is named in her honor, and the Tampa Bay Instances in 2018 ranked her ninth on its record of the 50 greatest coaches — from the professional to prep levels — in bay place historical past.
“She’s the mom, she’s the trailblazer,” said longtime Terrapins boys basketball coach Joe Fenlon, whom Chalu employed refreshing out of university in August 1983. “Kids that will hardly ever have achieved her or listened to of her benefit from her and her commitment to her activity.”
An Ohio indigenous who graduated from the College of Illinois-Chicago, Chalu had nearly no athletics track record outdoors of horseback riding when she moved to the bay location with then-partner Randy Dagostino in 1976. The couple had been lured by Chalu’s younger sister, Lauren, by now a member of the Tampa Prep faculty.
“(Lauren) was questioned by the headmaster (George Wolfenden), ‘Do you know any individual that could possibly operate a sporting activities system?’” recalled Dagostino, who was divorced from Chalu in the early 1980s but remained excellent close friends with his ex-wife.
The two still left their Chicago educating gigs — Randy at a personal university, Carol as a 3rd-grade community-college instructor — for Tampa, and essentially laid the groundwork for the Terrapins’ fledgling athletic method. Carol and Lauren coached the ladies sporting activities Randy served as athletic director when coaching boys soccer, boys basketball and baseball.
Educating themselves and their pupils concurrently in pretty much just about every activity, they excelled while almost continue to residing out of containers. Her initial winter on campus, Chalu led the Terrapins girls basketball crew to the Class 1A condition title.
3 a long time later on, the few guided the university to its very first volleyball point out crown. Dagostino still left the subsequent 12 months for the athletic-director gig at Berkeley Prep.
As her volleyball astuteness grew and her coaching chops grew to become refined, Chalu blossomed into an extreme competitor with a meticulous consideration to depth and an astounding knack for molding athletes with modest techniques and/or measurement into elite competition.
“She would’ve been a single of the initial kinds to explain to you how really hard she experienced to function actually to master the activity,” Fenlon mentioned.
“And I imagine that is 1 of the items that drove her. She was a extremely driven individual. She also was very, very structured. We all converse about getting follow options, I consider Carol realized specifically what she needed to get accomplished each day. And she experienced kids who acquired into the method, that if we do all the things that we’re working on, we’ll have an chance to get.”
On Chalu’s look at, the Terrapins would get 11 far more state volleyball crowns over the upcoming two decades, like 6 in a row from 1980-85. Through that time, she and Dagostino also launched what is considered to be the state’s very first club-volleyball method (Tampa Bay Juniors), sending the sport into another stratosphere competitively.
“She held men and women to requirements and wouldn’t permit them be common,” reported USF volleyball coach Jolene Shepardson, a 1998 Tampa Prep graduate who as Jolene Patton assisted the application gain three point out titles.
“She experienced a fantastic way of just interacting with us and communicating with us, currently being there for us, not allowing for us to just go via the motions in any condition or form. She motivated us to get titles and be our ideal.
“Even again then in nourishment and our strength exercise routines, she was most likely revolutionary past her many years, because I look back and not many individuals were talking about that stuff as they do now.”
Christi Newkirk Zettel, a 1985 Tampa Prep graduate who played on four state championship teams as a 5-foot-6 exterior hitter, remembers Chalu handing out a group timetable at the beginning of the period that provided the dates of the state match.
“It was like, ‘This is when the season finishes,’ not, ‘Here’s districts and hopefully we’ll go farther,’” Zettel explained. “It was district, areas, sections, condition. They were all on the calendar.”
That inner generate for excellence only intensified when her ex-husband became Berkeley Prep’s volleyball mentor in 1983. Chalu and Dagostino, who remained neighbors in South Tampa for decades, produced a person of the area’s most intense, intriguing significant faculty rivalries steeped in mutual respect.
For 20 consecutive seasons (1980-99), possibly Berkeley or Tampa Prep — or often the two — received a condition volleyball title. Several years after her divorce, Terrapins players still affectionally referred to Chalu as “Coach Dag.”
“She (was) just a extremely disciplined unique,” stated Dagostino, who gained 15 state championships at Berkeley. “She had an incredible concept that no make any difference what she was hoping to get across to young ones, they considered her.”
In 21 seasons, Chalu amassed a 602-100 record as volleyball coach that included two state runner-up finishes in addition to the dozen state titles. She stepped down following extra than 30 a long time as athletic director in 2010.
“Great lady,” Dagostino claimed.
“Her bravery opened so quite a few doorways for me and just wanting to desire a aspiration and not accepting no as an solution,” explained current Tampa Prep mentor Leanna Taylor, a 1995 graduate who won 3 condition titles on Chalu’s teams and afterwards coached Plant High to five consecutive condition championships (2006-2010)
“To just take more than this plan at Tampa Prep, each and every day when I walk in there, I truly feel Carol, I really feel her hard perform, I do the job in her name. The women know about Carol. … Each and every day she’s residing with us.”
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