Coach’s Corner – Monday with Matt

Over the course of the past 6 months, I have been writing a weekly column for Hadley Park and Recreation called Mondays with Matt. In these columns, I discuss the role of sports and recreation in society along with coaching lessons, tips and best practices. As Winter comes upon us, the column is taking a bit of a break – also due in part to some personnel changes in the Park and Rec. department. The following is my final wrap up column that was published yesterday.

As the calendar pages turn and the snowflakes begin to drop onto our New England landscape, it is coming to the time of year where we tend to stop and reflect. We look at the world around us and ponder what we have seen throughout the year. For many this year, it has been a challenging year. As I too reflect on the past year and prepare for a likely pause to this column during the seasons, I am glad that I have had the opportunity to have an audience with all of you who read this column.

Coaching, athletics and the role that recreation plays in our lives are things that I care deeply about. I never made it to high ranks in any sports, but I have continually been exposed to it and gleaned bits of knowledge here and there. It is that knowledge that I have sought to share with all of you. I hope that everyone who has read this column thus far has been able to take something away from it.

As one can see from reading these lessons in totality, sports and recreation have a lot to offer us. Not just in terms of pleasure and enjoyment or providing us something to do. Sports and recreation does provide us with that as well, but it offers us so much more. They provide us with a vessel to become the best that we are capable of becoming. Coach John Wooden’s self-crafted definition of success – the peace of mind obtained through giving the effort to be that best version of yourself – was not just for the field of play. On the contrary, Coach Wooden was seeking a way to convey to those around him about what it means to be successful as a person. The lessons that you learn through recreational activities and/or sports help to achieve that goal while also providing skills and ideas that cross-translate into any facet of life. However, like any activity or task, the vessel of learning will only open its doors to you if you genuinely seek to unlock the door, open your mind, keep your eyes straight and steady and actively learn.

Like any activity, sports and recreation require hard work – a lot of it. It requires being a student of the game. It requires a passion – whether that fire that was lit be an acquired interest or a force that simply cannot be easily explained. Learning and developing your inherent character through sports and recreation requires that you learn not only about the game, but about yourself and others as well.

Think back on many of the lessons that we have discussed together over the past half year. We have talked a lot about strategy. We identified what your internal strategy can look like and how that is influenced by – and can help influence – your team’s external strategy and game strategy. We talked about the importance of practicing the fundamentals of your given activity and understanding the tools that allow you to perform that activity. We talked about the importance of having fun, persevering and being creative. We identified the keys to success that will help you be the best athlete possible.

Look back at that last paragraph. Read the words. Not one sport was mentioned nor one activity. I could have been talking about baseball, softball, football, cheerleading or basketball. I also could have been talking about painting, playing music, participating on the debate team or writing. The ideas crossover and are applicable in all parts of your life. Sports and recreation are simply a microcosm of life and a medium through which these skills can be developed and displayed.

For myself, like many others, sports are what opened our eyes to these lessons. For me, all of the lessons mentioned above came to me through baseball. I use them every single day in my everyday life and with my family. But baseball is where I studied these concepts, along with other sports.

For those of you who use sports and recreation as a way to learn, I hope that these tips and lessons have been helpful to you. I hope that sports and recreational activities have opened your eyes to the world around you like it has for me.

As we head into a winter break, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this column and say that I hope to be back with you all soon for our weekly discussions. If you would like to continue following my coaching lessons and columns, you can view the archive – so far – on the Hadley Park and Recreation website and through my website that I am updating at

Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

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