When senior Delanie Casto entered the seventh grade, she took up the game of volleyball for the first time and has not stopped since. She grew up watching her older sister play, so when it came time for Casto’s turn, she decided to follow in both her sister’s and mother’s footsteps. But this choice sent her on a path entirely of her own.
In her early athletics career, Casto’s love of sports was split among several sports—basketball was also a huge passion—but when she hit Pittsfield High School, volleyball started to become more than just a game to her; it became a part of her. As a sophomore, she earned her way onto the varsity squad, the only underclassman to do so, but it was after that season that she truly realized the passion she had for the game. “The summer before my junior year, I attended a camp put on by Karen Kemner—a former Olympian that now coaches at Culver-Stockton College—and that’s when I knew that I wanted to play in college,” said Casto.
It was also during her junior season that Casto faced a major setback, a wrist injury that required three surgeries. It was because of those surgeries that she was forced to focus her energy on one sport. Naturally, she chose volleyball.
When it came time for Casto to decide on a college, it was a slightly complicated journey. She visited Blackburn during her senior year, but at one point was committed to a different St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school—Iowa Wesleyan University. After a change in coaching, Casto had a change of heart and gave Blackburn a second look.
Once she arrived, Casto learned that the journey wouldn’t be easy, suffering an injury that led to another surgery after her freshman season which left two screws in her knee. “It was a really long recovery process, but I knew I wanted to continue playing volleyball, so I made my way through it. I have continued to play despite all the coaching changes and injuries simply because I love this game and can’t imagine not playing. I would be lying if I said that I never thought about stopping, but volleyball is an amazing sport that I am so passionate about. It didn’t matter who was coaching or what injury I had, nothing could keep me from playing,” Casto said.
Casto’s passion and love for the game are not hard to miss, continually driving her to be the best version of herself. “Delanie is the self-named mom of the team who is always looking out for everyone. She is one of the most dedicated, determined players I’ve had the pleasure to coach. She always leads by example and tries her best and gives her all at all times,” said head coach of the women’s volleyball team Jim Hunstein.
Throughout her career, volleyball has taught Casto many lessons. She hopes to one day instill those same lessons in students of her own. After graduation, Casto plans to add to her elementary education degree by finishing her endorsements in early childhood education and special education. She hopes to receive these extra certifications through an online program which will allow her to teach younger students and those with special needs. “I believe that each child has potential, no matter where they come from or what they look like. I want to be a part of helping them find their fullest potential. I also want each child I come in contact with to know that they have someone in their corner that believes in them. A lot of kids don’t have this support at home and if I can be that one person to make a difference in a child’s life then I want to do that.”