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Miami University coach retires as longest serving Division 1 head coach in U.S.

This picture shows Miami Hall-of-Famer, Coach Carolyn Condit high-fiving her volleyball team players.
Miami University
Miami Hall-of-Famer, Coach Carolyn Condit high-fives her volleyball team players.

Miami University volleyball coach Carolyn Condit has retired, leaving behind a 44-year legacy as the winningest coach in the university's history and the longest serving Division 1 head coach in the nation.

She spoke with WYSO about the start of that career and what's next for her.

This story has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Carolyn Condit: I started out very excited to get to a Division 1 program full time, and I enjoyed three years before that at Xavier, but when I came to Miami, [they] had the scholarships and I wasn’t trying to bring it to a Division 1 level - they were already there.

I was very excited about it.

But I would tell those early athletes that I had that they went through a time where I was learning and that I had to learn a little bit more because for some reason, I was never an assistant coach, and probably because in those days there were a lot of jobs opening up in 1980, '81.

And when they opened up, they were part-time because women only got paid part-time back then. So not to get off the track, but I had a lot to learn, and I had no idea what to expect ahead except I knew I knew how to work hard, and I really enjoyed recruiting and trying to win people over to a great cause.

And I think going to a college, a university as solid and well known as Miami University is, with their emphasis on undergraduate students, mainly that would be a really great challenge, but also something that shouldn't be that difficult because it's a great school, and a beautiful campus, and had a winning program at that time when I joined in.

So I wasn't sure what was ahead but I knew that those things were ahead and I was very excited about that.

And then I just don't have enough adjectives to describe the quality motivated student athletes I was blessed to coach through those years that that that's what motivated me to stay so long.

Otherwise, I don't know who would stay that long in a in a given job. But if you wanted to hear more than that, or you want to know more, just feel free to ask me any other questions on it.

WYSO Host Jerry Kenney: Absolutely, we do. What was your approach to cultivating athletes on your team?

Condit: That's a great question. The goal was to always find the athletes and then to cultivate their trust in the coaching staff and myself and them proving that they're loyal to the system and the program and trustworthy to their coaches and their teammates.

And I think by how you speak to your athletes and how I did - I would always say what I meant, I did not believe in favorites, but I told all of them straight out, "I favor those who work hard and have great eye contact when we're coaching." And so those are the ones that we want to be in the starting lineup. And so everyone can have that courtesy.

There really are no favorites, but you have to work hard and have great eye contact. And so I just would put simple things like that out there.

And then we would have a set of rules, and I was maybe more strict than some, maybe not. I don't know because I've only been at Miami, but I do know I did not want alcohol consumed in our seasons.

It's very important that they listen to a curfew if we had to have one. Sometimes we get home at 9:30, but I really wanted them in their room by 11:30 or midnight because we played the next day, and I was very serious about those things and those that can follow those things, yes, there was probably going to be a penalty for sure and just an understanding, and we talk again.

But, very sincere about their well-being and who they were, and being sensitive when they were ill.

But I definitely was not going to have any patience if they did not understand what it meant to be dedicated to a team and to work hard.

So that's my simple, explanation of it. At the same time, I was a pretty positive coach, and I believe in recognizing successes, whether they were earning a starting role or not.

And I believed in always offering time to help anyone that wants extra time after practice to get into that starting role and to enjoy the challenge that they gave each other as team mates some student athletes.

So the more competition for position, the better everyone gets. And selfishness is, there's no place for it. It's just called teamwork and if you "earn in" a certain week and someone else next week, there has to be that joy from the bench and that camaraderie., otherwise, teams don't win.

So that's kind of in a nutshell what I believe, and I stuck to those things, and they.... they're normal things, right? And for most people, I don't know, if things have changed a lot in the last five years - they're normal things and they really enjoyed being a team, where I'm worried about some of the new rules and the portal and things like that.

They don't necessarily invite everyone to stay as a team.

Kenney: And I'm sure you would include all of that in your advice to a current or newer coach just coming into their own. Is there anything else that you would pass on?

Condit: Yeah, just know your academic coordinator, if you're lucky enough to have one - If you're at a big school or in a medium sized school, they usually have an academic office where certain coordinators are assigned to different teams.

And I think that's important that we get involved in that as coaches, because there [are] times that students are going to drop a class, and if they go below 12 hours, they're not eligible.

And so I always had as part of my role, besides telling your academic coordinator, tell me and then we will both know. And that's very important that you don't drop a class before you get that information out to the key people that can keep you eligible, but also to be up on what our student athletes are doing because, and in the program I ran, academics is number one.

Volleyball is a close second, and certainly family is involved in there.

And I went to that point because family is very important. And if there's someone that in their family has a funeral, I'm never going to deny them of that, you know? And so family's right up there, and their faith.

Those are four things that are just very important that, you know, I wanted to make sure enough times for, for them, especially when, you know, I told them I can't have you go to all the weddings in your family, but you can at least ask them. And I put them in the fall. So the academic piece is really huge, and any more, in the sports psychologists and the psychologists in the universities are very busy.

If someone is really struggling, with pressure or putting pressure on themselves or anxiety, I think as coaches we need to recognize that, not turn our backs.

I think that's very important.

And a lot of times the professionals we have at our universities can really help with that, and make sure that other things are good in their lives so that they can really benefit as an athlete when their with our team. So that's been a little tougher in the last couple of years. But I think we all have to be aware of that as well.

Kenney: And I guess final question, you announced your retirement back in October of last year, and you were honored in mid-February at, the Miami University men's basketball game, and you got that honorary degree.

So what is next for you? What do you, plan to do in retirement, if you care to tell us?

Condit: Yes, that's a good question. Well, I've been telling people, first of all, I need to sleep about a month, and that's almost up.

Let's be honest. I really don't want to pack unless I have to go somewhere important. And I might take a vacation later in April.

That's probably when I will feel like packing again. And I want to stay away from hotels until then. That's what I'm not going to do.

You know, I'm going to spend time with my wonderfully large family. I have ten brothers and sisters, many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.

My dad's going to be 94 on April 8th, and I've missed so many family events that that is my number one, number one top priority.

My second priority is to get together with friends in Cincinnati and Oxford, that I couldn't spend much time with unless I had a free weekend in this time of year, which is rare, or had a summer, part of my summer free, like when you weren't out recruiting.

So just spend more time with friends. I have no super big plans.

Kenney: So your dad's getting, a major solar eclipse for his birthday?

Condit: He is. Thank you for saying that. He is, I know, and I have friends talking, 'come here, and we're going to watch it here, and we're going to be on the lake.' And I know I'm going to be with my dad on his birthday. That's what I'm sure of.

Kenney: That's great. Carolyn Condit, thank you so much for your time. It's been a great career and we've really enjoyed talking with you about that career. Good luck to everything that's coming your way next.

Condit: Well thank you. You're very kind to call and hear me out. And I hope all the coaches out there love what they're doing, and the young coaches know it. It can be a very rewarding career.


Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.