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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

A Pure-bred Winner

One look at her playing career, and it’s clear that Lady Beacon volleyball coach Terry Condon is deserving of some serious respect. Two national titles at UCLA, a National Player of the Year Award, a member of five different national teams, and recognition as a All-Time Great Female Player by the U.S. Volleyball Association are certainly enough merits to grant respect.

However, the hardworking Condon doesn’t want to be given respect as a coach based on a playing career. She wants to earn it for her work on the sidelines.

“I’ve known some great players who were terrible coaches,” the fourth-year head coach said. “You have to earn your players’ respect to become a good coach.”

To Condon, her past as a player isn’t what is important. She focuses on her players, in the present, and preparing them to win. Coaching is all that is important now.

“I want to see them succeed, and that is very important to me,” she said. “If they win and go to school and graduate, that’s all I can ask for. The other stuff doesn’t matter.”

Add Condon’s personal accomplishments to the category of “other stuff.” These words are spoken from a player who was named to the USA Volleyball 75th Anniversary Women’s All-Era Team (from 1949-1977); a woman who won her sport’s version of the Heisman Trophy all while building a volleyball dynasty that fans in Westwood still talk about. Condon earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 1972, but it doesn’t matter to her. She measures success now as a coach, by wins and by her program’s successes.

Condon’s success on the sidelines jumps off the pages of her coaching resume, leading three different programs to winning tenures. Upon graduating from UCLA in 1977, Condon knew immediately that her heart was in coaching, and accepted the head job at Cal State Bakersfield. Following two years at Bakersfield, Condon got a big opportunity when Texas A&M came calling, looking for a head coach. Going from a relatively small California school to the Big XII was somewhat of a culture shock for Condon.

“Oh my God, we would have thousands [of fans] at games,” Condon said. “It was big time.”

Despite the huge following, Condon was immune to the pressure, as her coaching record in College Station showed. During her tenure with the Aggies, Condon had a 180-101 record with three NCAA Tournament appearances in just six seasons. In 1984, the Condon-led Aggies finished 33-4 (.892 winning percentage), a school record for winning percentage that still stands today.

“Texas A&M was a great experience and I loved it,” Condon said. In typical Condon fashion, however, it wasn’t about her reputation or record. Her favorite thing about A&M was about the relationship with her players. “When I quit coaching at A&M, I missed the kids,” she said.

She also developed a reputation as a coach that could quickly rebuild a program from mediocrity into a winner. The season before she arrived in College Station, the Aggies were a pedestrian 18-21. Two years into Condon’s tenure at Texas A&M, she had the Aggies ranked top-10 nationally.

However, she doesn’t consider herself some kind of rebuilding architect with a blueprint for immediate success. She’s not a miracle worker; she just demands competitive ambition from herself and her players.

“I never think of it [as a turnaround]. I look at it as, I hate to lose,” Condon said. “And I expect a lot of commitment [out of my players].”

She may not see herself as a rebuilder, but she’s up to her Texas A&M tricks at UMass Boston. Condon’s second season at UMB resulted in 18 wins, a win total higher than the three seasons combined before Condon stepped foot on the Harbor Campus.

Her early success translated into making her the all-time winningest volleyball coach at UMB, a number that is always on the rise as the Lady Beacons continue their ascent in the Little East Conference standings. With a win over Framingham State on October 14 that ran their season record to 16-7, these Lady Beacons are threatening to set the school record of wins, which currently stands at 22 in 1999. If the Beacons can win seven more, it would be just another notch on Condon’s coaching belt.

It is refreshing to see a coach not reference her playing career when trying to validate his or her strength as a sideline leader. Condon is fully aware that her #34 retired jersey at UCLA will not help with coaching strategy, but her illustrious career often does come into play when she recruits future Lady Beacons.

“[My playing career] has helped with recruiting, because I now have so many contacts,” Condon said. “All these connections with old high school and college contacts help.”

One such connection was a Cal State Bakersfield-bond that she shares with star outside hitter Kate McWhorter. When McWhorter was looking to leave California, the first thing she mentioned to Condon was that she knew her history as a coach of the Roadrunners.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Hey, I knew you coached [at Bakersfield],” Condon said. “So that opened a door.”

Doors continue to open for Condon and the Beacons. And while her playing days opened many doors throughout her career, it will be her coaching skills and reputation that will one day open a very special door – a door to the Beacon Hall of Fame.