UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Young Group of Weirdo’s only Gaining Experience


Team has potential to be number one…in all of DIII

Coming in the 2010 season, one thing was a given for the Lady Beacons volleyball team. The team was no longer a surprise, whether it is at the school, their conference, or all of division III. Two years ago, the team made some noise by winning 25 games and increased that total to 30 wins during the 2009 season. Let it be known that before sixth year head coach Terry Condon arrived at UMass Boston that the Lady Beacons won a combined 13 games over the course of three years.


Coach Condon brought a doormat program to being the talk of the school by taking the Lady Beacons to the Little East Conference title game in 2008, and then winning it in 2009. One thing was evident; Condon, who took over the team in 2005, was here to change the culture. Even though UMass Boston has been known as a commuter school, Condon has recruited across the country bringing in prime talent each and every year.


“We just recruit”, said Condon. “We just go after the players that will fit my personality and are trying to accomplish what we want. I think where the school is; Boston is a huge draw. The water is also a huge draw for the out of state kids. Now, with us being successful the last few seasons, we’re drawing a lot more interest.”


With All-American Honorable Mention Team sophomore Shannon Thompson, All-Regional Honorable Mention Team and junior co-captain Cassy Hanneman, and All-Little East Conference Second Team in junior Molly Rattigan, the Lady Beacons had the making of what could be a special championship season.


In the pre-season poll, the Lady Beacons were a near unanimous pick to win the Little East Conference, earning 7 of a possible 8 first place votes. However, as Thompson said, this year was a little different than the beginning of the 2009 season.


“Last year if we won, we won”, quoted the 6’2 middle-hitter. “This year we had to win and hold our title to prove last year was not a fluke. We came in having to show people that we’re here and we’re a good team.”


Sophomore and co-captain setter Frana Burtness-Adams saw it as a positive pressure that was not only good for the team, but good for the school, as well.


“Most of UMass Boston’s past has been us being the under dogs. So by us not being the underdog, it gave us a chance to put pressure on ourselves that yes we have to win and want to win instead of if we don’t win oh well.”


Attitude like that from a player resembles what kind of mentality Coach Condon has for her team year in and year out. Coming from a prestigious career as a player at UCLA in the mid 1970’s, Condon knows what being a champion is all about. The Lady Beacon all time win leader won a pair of National Championships in 1974 and 1975, and then was the runner up in 1976. It can be easy for a team to get a hop in their step after going to the LEC title game and then winning it the following year, but Condon was not having it. In fact, Condon made sure the team’s ego never blew up.


“She doesn’t fill our heads with how great we did”, said Thompson. “Some days she makes us feel bad but it makes us work harder because we want her approval and want to be better.”


“Terry always had something for us to work on”, stated Burtness-Adams. She keeps us grounded and tells us that any team can beat us if we don’t show up ready to play.”


Coach Condon certainly did that once again in 2010. She led the Lady Beacons to another 30-win season and another Little East Conference Crown. Even though the wins go next to Coach Condon’s name, she knows and appreciates the bunch of “weirdo’s” she has on her team.


“They all have the same goals, quipped Condon. “No matter what’s going on, when it is time to play, they come in and play because they know what they want. Their ultimate goal is the same.”


After breezing their way through the regular season and the LEC tournament, the Lady Beacons advanced to the NCAA tournament. The Lady Beacons cruised through the first two round, beating Mass Maritime 3-0 and Middlebury 3-1. Next up was the New England Regional Final against a tough Springfield squad. The Lady Beacons wound up winning in the fifth set to win the match 3-2 and in the process, capturing the New England Regional Championship.


Thompson and Burtness-Adams knew at this point the Lady Beacons had a chance to win the whole thing.


“It was such a tough matchup”, quoted Burtness-Adams. “We were down, but fought back and wound up winning. St. Louis is where we wanted to get to and knew we couldn’t without beating Springfield. It was a great feeling.”


Unfortunately, the Lady Beacons run ended in the Golden Arches city in a 3-1 defeat to Calvin College. However, the Lady Beacons are only losing one player in Michelle Cawley. Besides Cawley, everyone else is coming back, plus a new recruiting class to bolster an already loaded roster. With only three juniors turning into seniors, the young, but very experienced squad is not going anywhere any time soon. This was nothing but a positive experience for the bunch.

With chemistry already set, the self-proclaimed “weirdo’s” are set up to create havoc for not just the Little East but for the rest of division three.