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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Volleyball Heads Into Offseason With High Hopes

Julia+Murphy+will+lead+the+Beacons+in+her+junior+year%2C+which+begins+in+September
Julia Murphy will lead the Beacons in her junior year, which begins in September

In order to be successful, all great teams need a strong leader. The direction of a team is defined by the personality of the coach. It doesn’t matter whether their temperament is hard-working, fun-loving, or even arrogant—the most vital thing is that the team follows the coach’s lead. Babe Ruth once said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Success and unity run top down.
Terri Condon, the head coach of the University of Massachusetts Boston Volleyball Team, is not unfamiliar with creating team identities. “Coach [Condon] does a great job of bringing the team together,” said Junior Bri Sousa. “She used to be a star for UCLA and knows more about the game than anyone. The team reflects her passion and attitude towards the game.”
Coaches with previous playing experience tend to be more approachable. It creates a link between the coach and team, as well as a sense of understanding and common ground. For Condon, her experience is essential to her coaching style because she expects a lot out of her players on and off the field. Previously being an athlete allows her to impart real life experience to players without preaching it.
“Having a coach that was a player is great,” said Sousa. “We know that she has experienced the hard work it takes to win. It’s easier to play for someone who puts out the same effort that they demand.”
The respect the players have for Condon is profound, but not surprising considering her resume. Condon is approaching her 11th year as Beacons Head Volleyball Coach and is no stranger to success. Since 2012, the team has only suffered two losses within the LEC. More impressively, they have won the Little East Conference Tournament in five of the last six years. Condon has created a dynasty within the conference.
“The team made it to Nationals my Freshman year,” said sophomore star Julia Murphy. “Coach does a great job maintaining success. Every year we have the ability to make the NCAA tournament. Not many teams can say that.”
Having said that, a great coach doesn’t guarantee success. Creating a team is just like building a hectic jigsaw puzzle. It’s hard enough to put the pieces together correctly, let alone finding some of them through recruiting. Despite the challenge, year in and year out Condon seems to have a complete picture. Her vision, the players, and the offseason regimens combine to complete the puzzle to success, and a key piece to the offseason is recruiting. 
Recruiting is crucial in any sport. It allows squads to rebuild and revamp. It is a time where teams fill their missing pieces to their puzzles. “We try to find recruits all over the country,” said Condon. “[Co-Head Coach] Mike Houlihan was recently in Chicago doing some recruiting (…) We typically make trips out to the midwest, west coast and southern Florida. You can find a lot of talent in these areas where volleyball is bigger.”
Condon tends to find her recruits during the winter and spring seasons. “I recruit now because this is the club season,” said Condon. “The top players are generally on club teams. It’s similar to how club soccer or AAU basketball works.” Coach Condon does a great job bringing in recruits with D1 and D2 skill sets.
The final piece of Condon’s puzzle is the offseason program. Regardless of their year, players are expected to come in full steam ahead. “Offseason is probably the most important thing to the team. It is where we work on our fitness, our game, and improving ourselves as a whole,” said Sousa.
“Every day we try to improve on two things. Every day we pair either our captain’s practices, gym work, mental improvements, or just cardio. Our offseason is mainly on personal growth and improvements.”
Practices don’t officially start until the preseason in August. “The NCAA allows us around 16 practices during preseason. This really equates to about eight days of training because sometimes we run two-a-days,” said Condon. With such a small window it is essential for players to make their physical and personal strides during the offseason. If players just show up unprepared, the team is already behind schedule. Condon expects her team to be fit, alert, and mentally ready when they arrive for the first day. This may seem demanding, but in reality these characteristics are essential for winners. If one thing is clear, Condon is a winner on a mission. She wants to build champions, both on and off the field.
For the team’s upcoming season, success seems inevitable. Many starters are returning and many team members have NCAA Tournament experience from two years ago. A few notable players are the two All-Regional selections; Murphy and fellow sophomore Elizabeth Glavan. They’ll be joined by Sousa and sophomore Pepper Baker. Coaches and players alike appear to be excited for the challenge ahead. In time they’ll see if the coaching, recruiting, and offseason work pays off.