ALBANY — The easiest adjustment for Will Fiacchi to his new role within the University at Albany football program has been approaching his renewed relationship with head coach Greg Gattuso.
That’s because there’s really been no adjustment there.
“He’s still my head coach,” Fiacchi said. “He’s still the boss. That part hasn’t changed at all.”
Fiacchi, who set UAlbany passing records during a playing career that ended in 2014, is now a member of the Great Danes’ coaching staff. The 26-year-old is an offensive assistant coach this season, primarily working with the wide receivers.
“Bringing Will in was pretty much a no-brainer for me,” Gattuso said of Fiacchi, a three-year captain for UAlbany during his playing career. “It’s not like there was a learning curve with him.”
Fiacchi, the Great Danes’ all-time leading passer with 7,150 career yards, spent the past two football seasons as an assistant coach at Division III St. John Fisher. While there, Fiacchi also earned his MBA.
“When I got done playing, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Fiacchi said. “I had the opportunity go to [St. John Fisher] and get my MBA, as well as get my foot in the door with coaching. I got a feel for both worlds, and I took the coaching path.”
Coaching was always the likely choice for Fiacchi, whose father Joe was one of his coaches in high school.
“Since I was 4 years old, I’ve been on a sideline,” said Fiacchi, a Marcellus High School graduate. “Football’s always been in my blood.”
Fiacchi’s senior season at UAlbany was Gattuso’s first with the program. That year, Fiacchi broke UAlbany’s single-season passing record with 2,636 yards. While Fiacchi’s main responsibility this year is with the team’s wide receivers, redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Brunson — UAlbany’s likely starter — said he’s appreciated the chance to seek guidance from a former Great Danes star at his position.
“I love having him around,” Brunson said. “Having a guy who was a record-setting quarterback here, a starter for three years, it’s awesome to have him in your corner.”
Veteran players on this year’s UAlbany roster were once teammates with Fiacchi. Senior fullback/tight end Anthony Manzo-Lewis was a freshman when Fiacchi had his career-best season as a senior in 2014.
“It’s definitely a been little weird going from ‘Will’ to ‘Coach’ with him,” Manzo-Lewis said. “But it’s great to see someone who was your friend become a coach.”
Even after a couple years coaching, Fiacchi said he’s still adjusting to life as a coach. The chance to coach at St. John Fisher, he said, made him ready for the opportunity to come back to UAlbany when Gattuso offered him that chance this past winter.
“All my memories and time spent here was as a player on the field, in pads,” Fiacchi said. “This side is different, but it’s still football.”