Coach's Corner: Jeff Matthews
Issue   |   Wed, 11/11/2015 - 01:12

Q: Tell us a little bit about how you got into hockey as a youth and its role in your early life.
A: I was on skates at a young age, four or five years old. I remember my mom used to dress me in hockey equipment all wrong, with my pads in all the wrong spots. I fell in love with the game from an early age and immensely enjoyed playing my entire life. There was nothing better than going to hockey tournaments as a kid and staying in hotels with your friends and family. Those memories are definitely part of the reason I do what I do today.

Q: When did you know coaching and working in an academic setting was something you wanted to pursue?
A: I was fortunate to study at Deerfield Academy for four years and move on right to R.P.I. as a student-athlete there for four more years. After my senior year I ended up playing professional hockey in Sweden for a year to experience what that would be like. From there I actually went into sales but realized after three years of that, I wanted to do something with more purpose. I found coaching and teaching younger people to be extremely rewarding and choosing that path has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Q: What is your favorite athletic memory as a player? As a coach?
A: My most memorable moment as a player was winning the ECAC championship at R.P.I. my senior year. My sophomore year we made it to the semi-finals and lost and my junior year we lost in the championship final, so to win it my senior year was extremely rewarding. Personally, I played a bigger role on that championship team, and that is always gratifying when you feel like you played a large part in your team’s success. As for coaching, building those bonds with my players is the most memorable for me. When I get an email from a past player and I feel like I have made an impact on their life in a positive way, that is far more memorable than any championship I have won as a coach.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of coaching? The toughest?
A: One of the most rewarding parts of coaching for me is enjoying the process that comes with it. Pouring your heart into something and doing everything you can to grow as a group, both as a group of hockey players and as a group of individuals. Ultimately, the most rewarding part becomes seeing your athletes flourish after they leave your program. Whether it is as a parent or in their career, seeing your former players living a fulfilling life and knowing you may have had an influence on the person they have become is wonderful. The toughest part about coaching for me is the grind that comes with the job everyday. Even though you are doing something that you love, you still need to be consistent in your approach and in your demeanor. Even if you are having a bad day you are the leader of a team and are responsible for setting that example everyday. There is so much more that goes into coaching than those two hours on the ice or field everyday.

Q: What aspects of Amherst drew you here and are you most proud of?
A: Working and coaching here at Amherst is a very comfortable fit for me. I feel I share a similar philosophy to that of the school in terms of athletics. That philosophy being that we try to be the best team we can be but more importantly try to inspire each other to be the best people we can be and attempting to carry those traits with us the rest of our lives. I also get to work with some of the best student-athletes in the nation and knowing the potential they have to make a difference in the world beyond Amherst makes everything that much more exciting.

Q: What are the expectations for the Amherst Women’s hockey team leading into the year?
A: We had a good year last year but are always trying to get better collectively, year to year. We are a young team this year with only three seniors but at the same time our overall numbers are up a bit and that should create more depth and competition. I know we will be an extremely hard-working team and that the girls are really looking forward to our first game on Nov. 20.

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