TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State beach volleyball head coach Brooke Niles announced on Wednesday that Raul Papaleo has joined the program as assistant coach. Papaleo assumes the role vacated by Hector Gutierrez, who accepted the head coaching position at Texas Christian University.Papaleo, a standout indoor collegiate and professional beach volleyball player, began his coaching career in 1999-2001, where he served as the head men’s coach at American University in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
He piloted American University to a runner-up finish in the Puerto Rican National Championship match.
“We are so excited to have Raul join the Seminole family,” said Niles. “Raul played at the highest level both indoor and beach which will help provide valuable insight to our players. We can’t wait to get started this season.”
The last six years of Papaleo’s coaching career have come at the high school and club level in California, where he made his first stop at the Tstreet Volleyball Club in Irvine. He coached the 13U and 16U programs to a pair of top 10 rankings in the Southern California Volleyball Association (SCVA) in 2011 and 2012. From there he led the 16U team to the No. 1 ranking in the SVCA, winning two silver medals at the Junior National Qualifiers and a seventh place finish in the National Open Division in 2013-14.
While serving as the head coach for the Tstreet Volleyball Club he was also an assistant coach for Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach. In 2012, with Papaleo’s assistance, Corona del Mar finished 28-7 and ranked 20th nationally.
In August 2013, Papaleo assumed the role as both the indoor and beach volleyball coach at Laguna Beach High School. Coaching one of the top programs in Orange County, he led the indoor team to three league titles and a 30-0 record from 2013-16. In 2015-16 the indoor team was a runner-up in the California Interscholastic Federation playoffs.
Papaleo helped start the Laguna Beach High School beach volleyball program in 2014, guiding the team to a conference championship in its first season. He followed that by guiding the beach team to a second place finish in the Southern California Region and 10th-place finish in the region according to Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League.
His most recent stints on the club circuit came in 2014-15 with the A4 Volleyball Club in Foothill Ranch and 2015-16 with the Laguna Beach Volleyball Club. His A4 13U team reached the gold medal match of the LA Junior National Qualifier with an undefeated 10-0 record, earning a national tournament bid, while the 15U unit earned a silver at the Chicago Junior National Qualifier and a national tournament invitation.
Papaleo served as the head coach for the the Laguna Beach Volleyball Club 13U and 18U teams. He led the 13U team to a third-place showing in the SCVA as they qualified for the Junior National Tournament (Open Division). Meanwhile, his 18U squad captured a silver medal at the Junior Nationals (Open Division) and placed first in the SCVA.
Papaleo, a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, competed in indoor volleyball for Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW) while earning his degree in supervision. His IPFW team made back-to-back appearances in the Final Four (1991, 1992) as it captured the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) title in 1992. Papaleo was an integral part of the success at IPFW as he was named NCAA All-American (1992, 1993), 1992 MIVA Player of the Year, the school’s 1993 Athlete of the Year and now has a spot in the IPFW Hall of Fame.
In 1995, following the closure of his collegiate indoor career Papaleo earned his first win on the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Tour event in Denver, Colo., alongside partner Greg Ryan on the beach circuit. He followed that by playing in the pre-qualifier for his native Puerto Rico and was named as the AVP Rookie of the Year in 1996.
During a four-year stint on the AVP Tour, 1995-98, Papaleo finished among the top 10 on 14 occasions. That included four fifth-place outings, four seventh-place finishes and six ninth-place outings. Papaleo then returned to the Puerto Rico National Tour where he spent the next 10 years of his career (1999-2009). While in his native land Papaleo established the national record for tournament victories (25+) and was a five-time national champion.
Among the standout beach volleyball accomplishments in his career include a gold medal at the Central American & Caribbean Games (2002), ninth-place finish at the 2003 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro (2003), two NORCECA gold medals (2003, 2008) and one NORCECA silver medal (2006).
Papaleo and his teammate Ramon Hernandez brought home the bronze medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games when the combo downed the United States tandem of David Fischer and Brad Torsone. Papaleo and Hernandez went onto represent Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens marking the first time in the country’s history that it was represented by a beach volleyball team at an Olympic competition.
For more information on Florida State Beach Volleyball visit Seminoles.com and Twitter (FSU_BeachVB).