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Bees Bask in Championship Week

May 2012 | by Craig DeVrieze

On a mid-April Sunday morning, a newlywed couple who met and then married on the St. Ambrose campus could have sat down to two bowls of Wheaties in their new home just a couple of blocks away from their beloved school.

A breakfast of champions? Yes. And, sadly, almost.

Over a span of 26 hours, and just eight months after saying "I do" in Christ the King Chapel, Megan and Bill Gleeson very nearly helped a pair of Bees athletic squads do what no SAU crew had done before.

On April 13, the dance team on which Megan Gleeson '09, '11 MSLP served as an assistant coach won the school's elusive first national team championship in the NAIA Large Dance Division of the NCA-NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in Daytona, Fla.

One night later, a record 2,763 fans filled the PE Center to watch the championship match of the 2012 NAIA national men's volleyball tournament. They saw the Bill Gleeson-coached Fighting Bees settle for second place in the country for a second straight year after a 3-1 upset loss to Park University.

"I'm just happy St. Ambrose has its first-ever national championship and that Megan was involved," said Bill Gleeson '05, '10 MBA, whose Bees finished the season 33-3 after spending all but two weeks atop the national rankings. "It would have been great if it was us, but ..."

Gleeson's wife of a few months understood his mixed emotions. She knew her husband had a championship in his sights starting in the spring of 2010, when St. Ambrose began its three-year run as national tournament host, and particularly after finishing second last year.

Head dance coach Danelle Stanger's squad also was coming off a runner-up national finish in 2011. And the new Mrs. Gleeson admitted she may have pointed out once or twice to her hubby over the winter that the dancers would get the first shot at a crown, if only by a matter of hours.

That the tournaments finished a day apart certainly made for an interesting April weekend, but the Gleesons said the first several months of their marriage were interesting as well. Both work fulltime outside of coaching and their teams often practiced one behind the other on weeknights in the PE center.

"Really, really crazy," she said of the long days apart. "Now, it's going to be like ‘Who are you again?'"

In reality, the Gleesons' is a true Ambrosian love story. And Bill Gleeson, whose day job is as a graduate admissions recruiter for his alma mater, can't see the St. Ambrose connection changing anytime soon.

With a 154-51 career record and those two runner-up finishes, he could be forgiven for looking for a fulltime coaching job at a Division I school. But he's not. Not yet. And he said the long tenures of SAU mentors such as golf coach Jeff Griebel '75 and basketball coach and athletic director Ray Shovlain '79, '82 MBA make him wonder if he ever should.

In more ways than one, after all, Bill and Megan Gleeson are married to SAU.

"We are both obviously Ambrosians for life," he said. "We are both very well-connected with the community and we obviously love what we do."


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