“Even before I moved here, I scoped out the scene in Nova Scotia to see if I could get into volleyball,” she said. “It’s a big part of who I am as a person, I’ve been playing since I was two years old.”
Conroy said her aunt, Joan Kelly, who was also actively involved in the sport, inspired her love of volleyball from a young age.
“She had an unbeatable work ethic,” Conroy said. “She’d play with her team and that wasn’t good enough so she’d practise with the guys. She just had that desire to work hard at no matter what she did.”
Conroy said she’s had a lot of ups and downs in her volleyball career, both as a player and a coach, but two moments stuck out to her.
“My graduating team in the 2013-2014 high school season, it was the last year I was going to coach at my school, I had brought that group of girls all the way through and had gotten quite close with a lot of them,” she said. “I’ve seen them have a lot of personal success on and off the court, and I was really proud to be their coach.”
The final game as a team was probably the worst game they had ever played, she admits.
“We played a team who we were life-long rivals with,” she said. “We just lost terribly, about 25-9, it just wasn’t our day. There was nothing we could do.”
It didn’t go their way, but that didn’t ruin the moment, Conroy said.
“When the game was over, there was a little bit of heartbreak because it was our last tournament together, but we all just started laughing and crying,” she said. “The next game was waiting to start but then everybody else in the gym started laughing and crying with us.”
Conroy’s fondest memory from her playing years also involved losing during a crucial match.
“It demonstrates that winning is not the only thing that matters,” she said. “If you asked me how many games I’ve won as a coach, I’d have no idea. I’ve probably lost more than I’ve won, but the memories of the people I’ve spent my time with and the impact I’ve had on players.”
Conroy said volleyball differs from other team sports because it relies on a fully cohesive team dynamic.
“You can’t play it by yourself, there can’t be one player that does everything because it’s against the rules of volleyball,” she said. “It is a true team sport, and you have to be able to rely on your teammates in order to be successful.”
It’s not enough to just have good players - they have to have chemistry, she said.