Bright Future Ahead for UMB Athletics

Ryan Thomas

Nothing is forever. Not even diamonds, James Bond. No reign is infinitely supreme. Even the New York Yankees miss the playoffs while spending nine figures and having a dictator for an owner.

Well, the times are changing here at UMass Boston. And they’re for the better, so no parallels to the Dow Jones, the economy, George Bush’s fiscal policy or the Middle Class.

UMass Boston’s coaching hierarchy has been retooled in the past five years, with 15 of 18 varsity sports welcoming change at the top. All coaches that have been brought in have experienced success, both as college athletes and coaches.

The outcome? Renewed success for Beacon athletics.

Exhibit A: Volleyball coach Terry Condon, a UCLA Hall of Famer and successful Texas A & M coach. 180 wins in Division I resonate with possible recruits.

Exhibit B: Men’s hockey coach Peter Belisle, a standout at UConn (as a player and a coach) whose family lives, breathes and eats life on the ice. He’s the epitome of a hockey lifer and its only one of his great traits.

When coaches have a pedigree, something to hang their hat on, recruiting the best athletes possible becomes easier to a degree. In order to have continued success, coaches need to constantly bring in new athletes who will make an impact right away. A great way to do this is to have a reputation that precedes its self.

UMass Boston is beginning to develop a winning reputation, one that is dedicated to bringing the best Division III talent onto The Peninsula. The Little East Conference has recognized this over the past two years, with more Rookie and Player of the Week awards than A-Rod no-shows in the playoffs.

Just this season alone, three of Amy Zombeck’s Lady Beacons have corralled ROW awards in women’s soccer and Terry Condon’s setter from Denver, Cassy Hanneman, has won the award twice in one month.

There is a changing of the guard going on at UMass Boston. Three years ago, women’s soccer could hardly field a team. Now they’re playing the role of Christopher Columbus, exploring uncharted territory while breaking team records left and right.

And as a member of the athletic department said, five years ago the volleyball team didn’t have any athletes, never mind any volleyball players. Condon “changed the culture,” the source said. Those Lady Beacons are a top-three team in the LEC now.

It’s a theme being repeated, and it’s great to see.

Peter Belisle has quickly turned his hockey Beacons into a formidable opponent in the ECAC East, a conference known as the best in all of Division III. The goal this season (two seasons removed from a five win season) is to win the ECAC East. Bold, but attainable.

Maura Crowell, a Division I Colgate College hockey standout her self, has seen continued success as women’s hockey coach in her short tenure. She has led her team to the ECAC East semi-finals in back-to-back years, and expects nothing short of that this year.

This school, in terms of its athletic sustainability, is only scratching the surface. Considering location, the advent of on-campus housing and the direction the athletic department is moving, the only way to go is up.

The only thing that can possibly derail UMass Boston’s efforts to continually improve the overall success of athletics is the concern of serious budget cuts due to a sagging economy.

Let’s hope for the best and for a continued ascension up the Little East and ECAC East leader boards.