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“I thought I’d be there for three years”: how Carolyn Condit made Oxford home

<p>Volleyball head coach Carolyn Condit has instituted a strong culture at Miami, leading to ten conference titles during her 37-year tenure.</p>

Volleyball head coach Carolyn Condit has instituted a strong culture at Miami, leading to ten conference titles during her 37-year tenure.

In “The Andy Griffith Show,” there’s a town called Mayberry, N.C., which is the main setting of the show. Mayberry is a sleepy town, with just 5,000 people, one traffic light and not much else. The inspiration for Mayberry came from a town in North Carolina called Mount Airy.

For volleyball head coach Carolyn Condit, however, the town may as well have been based on another sleepy town called Oxford, Ohio.

“I thought Oxford was Mayberry,” Condit said. “I told my parents, ‘I don’t know if I can live here.’”

Condit, now in her 37th season leading Miami’s volleyball team, has lived in Oxford for her entire tenure with the RedHawks.

Early on, Condit was unsure if her future was in Oxford. She applied for other coaching jobs after eight years at Miami, interviewing with a few teams before ultimately staying.

“I could go to a bigger school or a different school, but I don’t know that they would’ve matched what I like at Miami,” Condit said.

Condit has found a home at Miami, just as she has in the city of Oxford. 

Despite choosing to live in town mainly because of the fast commute (Condit is a self-described workaholic who loves working in her office), Oxford has grown on her over the years.

So has her success. 

After receiving degrees from Mount St. Joseph University and the University of Indiana, she became the head volleyball coach at Xavier University in 1980. 

Four years later, Condit decided to take the open head coaching position at Miami. 

It’s worked out well for both parties, as the RedHawks have won more than 650 games in Condit’s tenure. In 37 years, the team has won 10 Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships, appeared in nine NCAA tournaments and has had countless players represented on All-MAC teams.

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This season, Miami is looking to continue its streak of four regular season conference championships in a row. So far, the team is 3-3 with a 2-0 record at Millett Hall.

On Jan. 22, Condit won her 750th game in her career, sweeping Buffalo 3-0 in the team’s season opener. After the game, Condit praised her assistant coaches and players in helping her achieve the milestone. Later, she admitted she didn’t even know she was about to reach 750 wins.

“I don’t check my own bio, I guess,” Condit said.

Condit’s demeanor is a part of her team’s unselfish culture. Per Condit, her teams have always had good chemistry and gotten along well on and off the court. 

Still, that culture doesn’t just come from nowhere. It has been cultivated during Condit’s entire coaching tenure, starting from the top and trickling down to the assistant coaches and the players. She even talks to potential recruits about the team’s culture, making sure they’re the right fit for her program.

Condit has had many good assistant coaches over the years, some of whom have landed head coaching jobs themselves. She credits her current assistants, Tania Schatow and Mike Owen, for helping continue the excellent standards the program has set.

Part of the team’s culture is the way the coaches teach their players, focusing a lot on fundamentals. Condit likes to give her players autonomy and lets them problem solve, leading to players being able to take the reins of leadership.

Teaching is a big part of Condit’s background, as she got her undergraduate degree in education. She preaches patience and positivity with her athletes and says she’s rarely given up on any of her players.

To Condit, the volleyball floor is just one big classroom.

“It’s just more fun because you can kill a ball to the floor at 60 miles per hour,” Condit said.

There are a lot of things Condit likes about coaching at Miami: the beauty of campus, the the supportive athletic department and the academic tradition. Condit’s education background is one of the biggest reasons she’s stayed in Oxford. She loves that her players are well-versed academically.

The biggest reason, though, is the people; whether it's her athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and even the fans, the people in Oxford won Condit over.

“It’s the quality of the people and the student-athletes,” she said. “I just really love being a part of that.”