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Eastern Gateway begins volleyball with former YSU coach

YOUNGSTOWN — Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) is adding women’s volleyball to its athletic lineup next year.

The new EGCC sport will be under the direction of head coach Joe Conroy of Canfield, who recently was officially announced for the position.

“Eastern Gateway Community College athletics is thrilled to launch our women’s volleyball program and first women’s intercollegiate sport under the guidance of head coach Joe Conroy,” said John Zizzo, EGCC director of athletics. “Joe brings years of experience and a wealth of volleyball knowledge to our program.”

Conroy first got interested in volleyball at the age of 13 when his father would take him to the Youngstown YMCA where he learned to play the game. He is a 1974 Boardman graduate who went on to the University of Toledo where he played four years for the Rocket Volleyball club team.

In 1978, he was invited to a 1980 U.S. Olympic Team tryout for volleyball. Of the 172 players invited, Conroy made the final 16 before being cut.

After graduating from UT in 1979 with a degree in communications, Conroy ended up moving to Southern California where he played on the beach volleyball circuit. He returned to the Valley in 1985 and took on the dual role of strength and conditioning coach-assistant volleyball coach under the late John McKenna at Youngstown State University.

He went on to become YSU’s head coach in 1992 after McKenna’s untimely death and for the next 13 years, led the program to 188 overall victories and into a perennial power in the former Mid-Continent Conference.

Conroy was named conference coach of the year five times, the last time in 1999 when he led the Penguins to a 13-1 conference mark.

After leaving the YSU program to accept a different position at YSU, Conroy stayed with the sport by forming a Junior Olympic travel volleyball program in the Youngstown area called the Thunder Volleyball Club.

Conroy said the new EGCC team starts next August. Conroy said he will look to get some of his Thunder girls into the EGCC Gators’ program.

“I’ll do my best to recruit as many Thunder girls as I can,” Conroy said.

Conroy is currently celebrating his 50th season in the sport of volleyball. Over those 50 years he has served as player for both indoor and beach volleyball, college coach, and club coach.

“I am excited for this opportunity as I will be starting the Gators’ program from ground zero and building it,” he said.