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Dan Gwitt hopes to continue the legacy of the volleyball team

With Gwitt at the helm and his expertise in recruiting, the future of the volleyball program is secure.
With Gwitt at the helm and his expertise in recruiting, the future of the volleyball program is secure.

Toward the end of the 2023 volleyball season, Miami University head coach Carolyn Condit announced her retirement after 40 years with the program. With a legacy like hers, including a 682-549 record with Miami, the stakes are high for Condit’s successor and the future of the program.

Luckily Dan Gwitt, an assistant coach and former volleyball player at Penn State University, is up to the task.

Gwitt, who has been announced as Miami’s new head coach for volleyball, didn’t play volleyball until he reached high school. Growing up, he played almost every other sport, but found that learning volleyball later in his adolescent years was a welcome challenge.

“I was fairly good at most sports,” Gwitt said. “Volleyball happened later, and it’s a really difficult sport to learn, especially later. I think that was what attracted it to me. There were so many challenges in it, and I could feel myself getting better so quickly.”

Gwitt piqued the interest of Penn State, who recruited him despite joining the sport late. The Nittany Lions were a dominant force in the early 2000s, winning the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association conference tournament and making the NCAA tournament every year in the 2000s. 

Though he didn’t play as much as he hoped, Gwitt believes that his time at Penn State prompted him to get into coaching once he graduated.

“My Penn State career definitely had some ebbs and flows to it,” Gwitt said. “I didn’t play as much as I thought I would when I went there, but I do think that was part of my journey, and it helped me as I’ve gotten older and gone through coaching for a long time.”

With four years as a collegiate athlete under his belt, Gwitt set his sights on his coaching career. He began at Centenary College in Louisiana, where he became the interim head coach in 2007 and the youngest Division I head coach in the country. 

After a break from collegiate coaching to coach club volleyball, Gwitt was brought back as an assistant coach at Indiana University, where he met future Miami women’s basketball head coach Glenn Box

“We ran into each other on my second or third day on the job,” Gwitt said. “They were building that program into a powerhouse when I was there, so I was excited to see him here because I know he knows what he’s doing.”

In 2022, Gwitt returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. During his time at Penn State, Gwitt helped the program during back-to-back successful seasons. In a victorious 2023 season, Penn State held a 23-9 record, a conference tournament championship and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Gwitt spent two seasons with his alma mater before getting the call from Miami’s associate athletic director Jenny Gilbert.

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“We talked for about 45 minutes straight, and I can tell that she was excited,” Gwitt said. “I was excited to talk to an administrator that really knew the sport … I just knew there was something special about it. You don’t have a coach that stays for 40 years unless this is a great place.”

For junior outside hitter Ellie Hanson, Condit’s legacy will still linger with the team as Gwitt joins the program.

“It’s really hard to understate how influential, not only as a volleyball coach but as a person and as a woman in sports, she is,” Hanson said. “... I think that so many women today respect her so much and look up to her, and that will never stop.”

Senior Margo Lawson said she and other members of the team were impressed by Gwitt’s support for the program and commitment to continuing Condit’s ideal of treating the team as people first.

“As soon as he met us, I could tell he was very confident in himself,” Lawson said. “You can tell he cares a lot about not just the athlete but the person.”

With Gwitt at the helm and his expertise in recruiting, the future of the volleyball program is secure. In the offseason, Gwitt will work to build trust and team-cohesiveness before attacking next year.

“I’m super competitive,” Gwitt said. “I want to win and want to win the right way. I think that it won’t take long for us to turn this program into an every-year competitor to win the conference title, and inevitably win the conference title a lot, if not every year.”