Building a Bryant Legacy, On and Off the Court
Theresa Garlacy remembers her first day as Assistant Coach of the Bryant Volleyball program in 1994. She wasn't thinking about the countless accomplishments and accolades that she and her program would achieve over the next quarter-century: Serving as head coach for an unprecedented 25 seasons, and leading the Bulldogs to 10 NCAA Division II Tournaments in 12 years; honored as 2015 NEC Coach of the Year; a Division I program-record 22 victories, an NEC Championship, and an NCAA tournament berth in 2018; a monumental 500 career wins and a career record of 531-356 (.599).
She couldn't imagine any of it, but she says, "I thought to myself, 'This is the best job in the world,' and 27 years later, that's still true today."
Now, she's chosen to give back to the Bryant community that welcomed her and has been such an important part of her life. Through a strategic and tax-advantaged planned gift using her Bryant retirement fund, she and her husband, Ted, are creating the Theresa and Ted Garlacy Volleyball Enrichment Endowed Fund to leave a legacy for a Bryant volleyball program that will grow stronger each year.
A Smithfield High School three-sport athlete—basketball, field hockey, and softball—Garlacy first played volleyball recreationally during her first year as a student at Providence College.
"I just fell in love with the game," she remembers. "It's such a team effort, coordinating multiple people with multiple skills to get the job done. You can't touch the ball twice in a row—you need your teammates to be successful."
It was her husband, Ted, who introduced her to the game that would be the focus of her life and career. A retired sergeant from the North Smithfield Police Department, Theodore "Ted" Garlacy MBA'07 joined her as a volunteer coach in 1994, and has been by her side, on and off the court, ever since.
Garlacy is quick to credit his contributions as a large part of her success and says, that while many people support their hobby or passion with their day job, "I am so grateful that I get to do what I love as my job, and I get to do it with my family."
Growing up the youngest of seven children, Garlacy says her mother was always her biggest fan, attending every game she played, and always encouraging her to follow her passion without limiting herself to the pursuits that were traditionally considered "for girls."
Her family's influence has shaped Garlacy's coaching philosophy toward goals that are set higher than simply winning games. She says she is committed to educating strong, resilient, confident women who leave Bryant ready to accomplish great things. "We're focused on life goals. The things student-athletes learn on the court—how to face adversity, how to be accountable—it sets them up for success throughout their lives."
She says one of the best parts of the job is the lasting relationships she maintains with former players—when they come back to visit with their families, when she visits them during team road trips. "Seeing them support each other in their careers, and watching their kids play together at special events. To experience that is a gift."
She hopes her own gift—the first-ever planned gift to Bryant Athletics—sends a message to players, colleagues, and everyone at Bryant.
"When I encourage alumni and former student-athletes to give back to Bryant, it's important for me to lead by example," she says. "Bryant has given us so much joy. I'm giving back to a truly special community that will welcome my eventual successor, give them the same support that I had, and make them want to stay for as long as I did."