For Immediate Release: October 13, 2010
Contact: David O'Brian (
Phone: 607-777-6478

A Second Chance
It took a huge mistake seven years ago for Casey Quaglia to get involved in distance running. Today, he is flourishing in every way at Binghamton University.

It is said that 90 percent of life is just showing up. For Casey Quaglia, however, his prolific career as a track and cross country runner started because he decided not to show up.

It was 2004, and Casey Quaglia was a freshman at Bangor High School in Maine. At the time, he was a three-sport athlete, who had excelled in soccer, basketball and baseball as a youngster. Having made the soccer and basketball teams as a only a freshman in high school, he figured he would have no trouble making the baseball team. In fact, Quaglia was so sure he would make the team that he made a fateful decision.

"I was thought I was the coolest kid after making the soccer and basketball teams as a freshman," he said. "I thought I was the best athlete ever, and since I was first pick of the Little League draft I decided I didn’t need to show up for baseball try outs."

That choice turned out to be a big error on his part.

"I was sadly mistaken and for the first time in my life, I was cut from a sport," he said. "It was the worst thing that ever happened to me and I didn't know what to do. It was the most humbling experience I've ever faced. It did embarrass me at the time but more importantly, it brought me back down to earth. And I quickly learned I am no better and no different than anybody else and I have to work just as hard to be good."

The days following that setback were tough for Quaglia but he soon found an athletic avenue that would take him further than he could have imagined.

"I didn't know what to do with my life after getting cut," he said. " I was depressed because I had never gone a season without playing a sport. So my friends reminded me how I broke the mile record in field day as a sixth grader. They said I should go out for the track team because there were no cuts."

Quaglia went on to have a stellar high school career, winning multiple state titles in track & field. In his senior year, he won the Maine Class A cross country title in the fall. All of the sudden, Quaglia was getting letters from coaches across the Northeast, hoping to recruit him in a sport he would not have considered four years earlier.

"My life changed after I joined the track team," he said. "The team was very supportive of each other and I discovered I wasn’t half bad. Maine is not known for its competition but I liked it a lot the next year I decided to play soccer in the fall, then give up basketball for indoor track and run outdoor track again in the spring."

When it came time to pick a college to continue his academic and athletic careers, Quaglia's visit to Binghamton made a big impact on him but an even bigger one on his mother.

"I don’t know what it was about Binghamton but something made me feel like this was the perfect fit for me," he said. "Once my mom met Coach (Annette) Acuff, she wouldn’t stop talking about how amazing of a person she seemed and how real she was compared to the other coaches. Thankfully, I listened to my mom and she couldn’t of been anymore right."

In 2007, the Binghamton men's cross country team was still a work in progress, having never finish higher than sixth at the America East meet since joining the conference six years earlier. Still, Quaglia could see the pieces were in place for a great run in the future.

"When I go to Binghamton, the class I entered with was extremely talented and motivated," he said. "We became a family, and spend more time with each other that anyone else."

Two years later, Binghamton came full circle, winning its first-ever America East championship. While Erik van Ingen and Chris Gaube finished first and second in that race, it was Quaglia's fourth-place finish that was the most surprising performance of the day.

"It was a long shot for me to make the top 10," Quaglia remembers, "It was a great victory and one of the greatest moments of my life. Then when we arrived home later that night we had the biggest surprise, when fellow athletes friends, trainers, and parents greeted us as our bus returned to campus."

"I will never forget Casey's performance at the America East Championships," Gaube said. "He overcame a lot of setbacks to ultimately breakout that day. He has been running amazing ever since."

While Quaglia has become a top runner in the America East, he has kept on top of his studies just as much, having been a mainstay on the America East Academic Honor Roll during college. It is something he owes to being a part of the Binghamton cross country program.

"Being on the cross country team definitely helps with school," he said. "All the guys on our team work extremely hard and put in at least 20 hours a week of training. We will be in the shower or ice baths asking each other questions about homework. Each one of us has a strength in the classroom and we use each other's strengths to pull us through not only on the track but also in the classroom."

In addition to balancing athletics and academics, Quaglia currently works in the athletic department's External Relations Department as in intern. For him, it is the perfect mix between his business major and his passion for sports.

"I’ve always had an interest in business and I was born to love sports," he said. "So I figured what could be a better way to give back to the school, and do something I love at the same time. The biggest thing I've learned from this internship so far is to be an active listener."

Listening has helped Quaglia so far in his job. At the same time, his running abilities helped land him a pretty high profile role. Prior to the men's soccer game on Sept. 26 against Cornell, he was asked to be the person racing up and down the sidelines waving an oversized Binghamton flag prior to the start of the game. That role has affectionately been called "Flagman."

"Bette Ann Gaube (mother of cross country co-captain Chris Gaube) knows I run cross country and she thought it would be a cool idea if we brought out the flag during the soccer games to get the crowd into it," he said. "Being the only runner of the interns, she figured I could run the flag up and down 10 times with out breaking a sweat."

If anything, Quaglia's experiences have given him a greater appreciation for the work ethic of the Binghamton Athletic Department Staff.

"My internship has taught me to appreciate everyone that works in the Event Center even more," he said. "I don’t know if Jason Siegel or Jim Norris or any of them ever go home.

Five days later after running the flag up and down the sideline of the Bearcats Sports Complex, Quaglia and the cross country team competed at the prestigious Paul Short Run. This coming weekend, the top seven men's runners (Quaglia included) will compete at the Pre-National Meet. With nearly everyone back from last year's conference championship squad, Binghamton is looking to raise the bar even higher this season.

"This year, the team is even more dedicated and we are really hoping to qualify for nationals," Quaglia said. "It's definitely a tall task but I think we can do it and as long as we believe, that’s the first and most important step."

Seven years after his big mistake kept him from being part of a baseball team, Quaglia has come to view the Binghamton cross country team as the best athletic experience of his life.

"The list goes on forever of what being on this team has done for me," he said. "I cant emphasize enough how much I owe to Coach Acuff. She has been there for all of us through the thick and thin, and she has helped mold us in to the people we are today. I can honestly say I have become a much better person overall from the time spent on this team. But none of this would mean anything if it weren’t for having the rest of the team to share the experiences we have gone through together."

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