Bill Condon, who has coached lacrosse for 30 years, 24 of them at Conard, won his 300th game on May 5, 2015.
By Ronni Newton
When the Conard boys lacrosse team beat East Lyme on Tuesday night, there was much more to celebrate than just another notch in the win column. The 13-6 victory gave the Chieftains a 7-4 record for the season, secured a spot in the state tournament, and was also the 300th career victory for head coach Bill Condon.
“It was a nice win. East Lyme is a good team,” Condon said. But he said there’s still “lots more to play for,” with league games against Simsbury, Glastonbury, and Hall still on the schedule, as well as East Catholic and Norwich Free Academy.
Condon, who graduated from Conard in 1977, is in his 24th year coaching at his alma mater where he also teaches chemistry. He coached for six years prior to that at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury, where he started the program from scratch in the early 1980s. Over the past 30 years, he has amassed a record of 300-167.
“Lacrosse has exploded in the last 30 years,” said Condon. “When I started [coaching], there were probably 25 or 30 varsity teams in the state. Now there are 93 varsity teams this year,” Condon said. “It’s been a really neat thing to witness.
Conard has a long history with lacrosse, and Condon said it was the first public school in the state to have a lacrosse team. There were a few more by the time he played at Conard in the mid to late 1970s, including Hall, but most of the public schools that had teams were in Fairfield County, and the team would play prep schools like Kingswood and Avon Old Farms.
Condon also played lacrosse at Fairfield University.
Condon said that the years when his son Billy played on his team (2000-2003) were very special, but he doesn’t have a favorite team. “That would be like saying I have a favorite child,” he said.
The team from 2001 does still have a special place in his heart, however. That was the team that included Larry Philippon, a Marine corporal who died in Iraq in 2005. Philippon’s nickname was “goat,” and that team is still known as “Team Goat” when a nucleus of players gets together every summer to play in a Glastonbury alumni tournament.
“It’s a lot of kids, a lot of players. That’s what makes it special,” Condon said. He’s now reached the point where he’s coached multiple generations. When he coached at Holy Cross, his team played against Andy Stabnick, now a Conard team parent.
He has also worked with countless players at summer camps, and coaches the Cardinals club team at Weslyan in the summer.
Now that Chieftains are in the state tournament, Condon is focused on continuing to win to get the best possible seed, and to win the league championship.
“You don’t get there by yourself,” Condon said of his winning record. He gives a lot of credit to longtime assistant coaches Steve Garneau and John Benyei. “It’s the kids, other coaches, family. [My wife] Annie has watched a lot of lacrosse games,” he said.
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