On the verge of history, Carolyn Condit returns for her 29th season in charge of the Miami volleyball team.
"We enter each new academic year with specific goals in mind that guide, direct, motivate and bond us together as a team," said Condit. "We expect to maintain a 100 percent graduation rate, win the conference, win the conference tournament, earn the NCAA bid and improve on our last appearance, improve our RPI and thrive as a team with effective leadership, a strong chemistry and a will to win that is hard to match."
Condit enters the 2012 season only one win away from 500 at Miami. She holds a 499-384 record over her 28 seasons in charge of the Red and White. When she earns her 500th victory, she will become the first coach in any sport to win 500 games at Miami. Condit, is also only two wins away from 600 for her career. Including her four seasons in charge of Xavier, she holds a career record of 598-464. On Aug. 28, 2010, she coached her 1,000th career game. She became only the 11th coach in NCAA history to reach that mark while coaching exclusively at the Division I level. Condit is the winningest volleyball coach in the history of the Mid-American Conference with a mark of 270-167.
The RedHawks have boasted amazing success under Condit's direction. The five-time MAC Coach-of-the-Year has seven NCAA Tournament appearances, five MAC titles and four MAC Player-of-the-Year awards to her credit. As one of the most prolific coaches in the MAC, Condit and her staff continue their quest to keep Miami among the elite programs in the conference and region both athletically and in the classroom. Under Condit, 31 athletes have earned a total of 67 All-MAC awards for their play on the court, while 32 athletes have earned a combined 48 All-MAC academic honors for their performance in the classroom. Five of her players have been named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, and five have earned induction into the Miami Athletic Hall of Fame.
"We are very excited to have Carolyn continue to lead our volleyball program," said Athletic Director Brad Bates. "She graduates her students, wins championships, serves our community and develops leaders of exceptional quality. We look forward to the future of our program and their contributions to our 'Culture of Champions' vision."
Condit is using her experience to give back to young coaches looking to move up the ladder. She recently volunteered to join the American Volleyball Coaches Association's mentorship program, where she will advise new high school and college level coaches who are looking to make the profession their career.
Having reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the past five seasons, hopes are high for Condit and the RedHawks to continue that success in 2012. With a balance of experience and youth on this year's team, expectations are high to make another run towards the MAC Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
A Winning Tradition
While success in athletics is defined by numbers-wins and losses-Condit has developed an effective formula in making Miami's program a winner in all aspects. Over the past 28 seasons, Condit and her teams have enjoyed a great deal of success. Miami has finished among the conference's top three 13 times and placed first or second nine times. Two of Condit's first three Miami teams-the 1985 and '86 squads-placed second in the MAC, but it was not until her sixth season at the helm (1990) that her team seized the coveted MAC title.
Nineteen of Condit's teams advanced at least to the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals since the tournament was reinstituted in 1987. That includes four straight appearances in the semifinal round between 2007 and 2010.
Eight of her Miami teams have advanced to the conference tournament championship match, with four collecting titles. Eighteen of her teams have accrued winning records, including seven above the .700 mark. Twenty squads have compiled MAC records above .500 with eight registering an .800 winning percentage or better.
With as much success as Condit's teams have achieved, quite possibly her greatest successes are the exceptional assistant coaches she hires, the positive/competitive team environment she creates and the "family" Condit has built as the leader of the Miami program. Currently three of her former assistant coaches are now head coaches of their own programs and many alumnae come back every year for the annual reunion weekend to visit with Condit and their former teammates.
Paco Labrador, a Miami assistant from 1995-97, as well as from 1999-2003, credits Condit with helping him get to where he is today as head coach of Wittenberg University.
"There is no question that Carolyn molded me into the coach I am today," said Labrador. "During my six years in Oxford, she gave me opportunities to be involved with all aspects of the Redhawk program. Besides all the volleyball teaching and training I was a part of, she welcomed me to join her on recruiting home visits, discussions with the Athletic Director, budget meetings and many other 'behind the scenes' tasks she thought would be helpful to prepare me for my future as a head coach. She runs a classy program that I try to emulate everyday here at Wittenberg."
Even years after they graduated parents of former players still are complementary of what Condit has done for their daughters as seen in this quote by Lorin and Susan Wolfe about their daugther Catherine (2007-08):
"Catherine came to the Miami volleyball team as a junior, very much in need of affirmation. Coach Condit believed in Catherine as an athlete and as a student. Clearly, this belief was put into action as she supported Catherine both on the court and in her academic pursuit. Coach maintains a close relationship with her athletes, and her help and guidance extends past the volleyball court. This interest and care for Catherine gave her the confidence that helped her become the person she is today. Our daughter is a professional young woman largely due to Coach Condit, her volleyball program, and the academic excellence of Miami University."
A Decade of Dominance
The decade of the 1990s was favorable for Condit. Five teams wore the MAC crown (1990, '95, '96, '97, '98), while her teams advanced to postseason competition seven of those years, including five jaunts into the NCAA Tournament. For her efforts, Condit earned MAC Coach of the Year accolades four times (1990, '92, '96, '98).
Her 1998 squad produced the best season in the program's history, winning the school's fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The 1998 RedHawks won the program's first NCAA Tournament match in a 3-0 domination of Nevada.
During a four-year span, Miami earned two automatic and two at-large invitations to the NCAA Tournament. In 1996 and 1998, the Red and White automatically qualified by winning the MAC Tournament. The 1997 team earned Miami's second at-large berth, while the 1995 squad became the first in MAC volleyball history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Both teams captured the regular-season conference title. Traditionally, Miami has been able to earn at-large berths in the years it has not won the MAC Tournament by playing high caliber opponents during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Prior to its four-year stint in the NCAA Tournament, Miami enjoyed two appearances in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) Tournament. The 1994 squad advanced to the NIVC after finishing the MAC Tournament as the runner-up. In 1991, again runner-up at the MAC Tournament, Miami reached the semifinals of the NIVC Tournament before ending its tournament stint with a 1-3 loss to Notre Dame and posting a 26-12 mark for the season.
The 1990's also produced three consecutive MAC Player of the Year recipients for Miami. Only two other MAC schools can boast such a string of success. Karen Lepley, the 1988 MAC Player of the Year, was Miami's only recipient until middle hitter Lori Reinart emerged to claim the conference's highest individual honor in 1996. Jessica Stout, a setter, followed in 1997, and middle hitter Alissia Thompson earned the award in 1998.
"The 1990 Mid-American Conference Championship and NCAA First Round appearance was a wonderful culmination of the effort and determination of four seniors, who together were tested in every way in the three previous years, finding a way to win the MAC regular season and qualifying tournament," said Condit. "We surprised most teams at that time - and enjoyed doing so! Our sophomores and juniors were very talented and easily complimented the skill and leadership our seniors brought to the floor. This year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of this championship!"
"Following a few rebuilding years and solid recruiting, our teams enjoyed a four-year sweep of regular season championships, and four consecutive NCAA appearances. The teamwork, the defense, the outstanding setters and the talent that our middles brought to the program, combined with our athletes' ability to face pressure and emerge as winners, are the aspects that stand out in my mind the most when I think of these special teams and what they accomplished together."
Continuing a Great Tradition at Miami
As successful as Condit has been during her tenure at Miami, she is mindful of her predecessors' achievements and devotes her efforts to continue building upon the foundation of success they constructed.
"The tradition of the Miami volleyball program has been one of great success as far back as the early '80s when the teams set the precedent of winning MAC Championships and making NCAA Tournament appearances. Thanks to so many former committed and talented Redskins and RedHawks alike, we are driven to build on their success and push our program toward a more elite status in the country."
Condit's teams have added four MAC Tournament titles in 1990, '96, '98 and '07 to those captured in 1980 and '81, which were the first years of the conference tournament. Miami squads also have made nine MAC Tournament Championship game appearances in the 26 years the tournament has been run.
A Commitment To Academic Success
Condit, whose program has boasted superior graduation rates during her tenure, is credited with building the Miami program into a winner both on and off the court.
Keeping academics a top priority for the volleyball team is an important part of Condit's winning philosophy. Her student-athletes take great pride in their academic achievements and often are among the leaders at Miami in grade-point average. In the spring of 2010, the team had the highest GPA among all RedHawk athletic teams with a 3.7. It is believed to be the highest single semester GPA for any athletic team in school history. The Miami volleyball team also ranked 13th nationally among Division I schools that year, earning the AVCA Team Academic Award.
Former RedHawk players made sure Condit was recognized for her work as a teacher, as an effort led by Suzy Wolford ('05) earned her a nomination for the 2010-11 Miami Effective Educator Award.
"The team's academic work and pursuit of their degree will always remain our top priority. Miami enjoys being among a prestigious group of Division I universities in the country who are well known for high academic standards, yet their motivated student-athletes prove year-after-year to be winners on the court. Our student-athletes certainly deserve much credit for their perseverance in their pursuit of excellence on and off the court," said Condit.
Virginia Heineman ('85), Kathy and Wendy Tepe ('87) and Jessica Stout ('97) brought national recognition to Miami through their selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team, while Tara Buroker ('04), Jill Homrig ('90), Kathy Whalen ('91) and Stout each earned first-team CoSIDA academic all-district honors twice.