Originally created 10/11/05

Pacers' Condon reaches 100 wins



Sometimes Will Condon will motivate his team by joking around.

During timeouts, he'll bring his USC Aiken volleyball team together and occasionally do his impersonation of a South Park character.

When things aren't going so well, Condon will play the role of coach.

"When we need to be yelled at, he'll yell at us," sophomore middle hitter Mandy Gerolstein said.

There has been plenty to cheer about for the Lady Pacers and Condon this season. The 31-year-old Condon notched his 98th win last week to become the school's all-time winningest coach. With his team's win at UNC Pembroke on Saturday, he hit the 100-win milestone.

Despite the two achievements, don't expect Condon to throw any parties for himself.

"All it really means is I've been here longer than anyone else," the sixth-year coach said. "Maybe that's an accomplishment in itself."

Condon grew up playing volleyball in Maryland and later went to Clemson, where he played club volleyball. While there, he cut his coaching teeth with an under-14 team in town.

After getting his master's degree from Emporia State, he became the ninth coach in USC Aiken history in 2000.

"It's been a learning process that's for sure," he said. "The only way to learn is just to do it. You make lots of mistakes, and I certainly have."

He started his tenure by winning 43 matches the first two seasons. But injuries to key personnel in 2002 and 2003 led to losing campaigns.

Condon decided to add more quality depth. The result? Another 20-win season in 2004.

This year's squad sits at 9-9 and is second in the Peach Belt Conference with a 4-2 mark midway through the season.

Senior setter Rachel Dalitz credits Condon with helping get the program back on track by bringing in players with better chemistry.

"It is a lot better," she said. "We play better as a team. There's not any individuals. We've jelled better."

This team believes it can do what it hasn't done in a decade - win the conference. Condon said his job is easier when his players have high expectations.

"It's my job to help them reach their goals," he said. "By recruiting people that are used to winning, you're expecting to set their goals pretty high."

Junior middle hitter Laura Williams is one of those recruits. After USC Aiken won at Francis Marion, she remained optimistic about the rest of the year.

"That was a huge turning point," she said.

"We showed ourselves we can do it. We beat two more teams, and we're at the top of the conference."

USC Aiken was the conference's best team four times in the early 1990s. Condon is trying to get his Lady Pacers back to that level.

"The next few years we should be very strong," he said. "My goal as a coach is to make them the best as they can possibly be."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.