May 13, 2016

Like father, like son, coach stresses fun in youth sports

By John Shaughnessy

Joe MatisWhen Joe Matis first learned he would receive the St. John Bosco Award, it brought back many memories from his 26 years of coaching. Most of all, it brought back special memories of his late father.

“One thing I really enjoy is that my father received this same recognition in 1973,” Matis says. “So sitting next to him is very good. Maybe it means that I paid attention to him a little bit.

“My dad was the head coach of our fifth- and sixth-grade team at Holy Name [of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove]. His approach was, ‘You bust your butt, and you try to win, but you better have fun.’ It’s a sport, and we play it. You can learn things from it, but fun was a huge part of it.”

Matis has followed that same game plan in his years of coaching basketball at Holy Name, Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, and at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. His most recent coaching stint in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) was at Central Catholic School in Indianapolis, even though he had no previous affiliation with the school.

“A friend who teaches at Central Catholic called me up on a Thursday and said, ‘We have a team, but we don’t have a coach.’ Their season was starting the next Monday. I said, ‘Why not?’ They were just like any other seventh- and eighth-grade boys. We had a good time.”

Like father, like son.

“You get to be a kid again,” says the father of three grown children about the joy of coaching. “You get to hang around a gym, watch kids play, teach them a thing or two.

“There’s nothing better than seeing a kids’ eyes when he accomplishes something that you’ve worked on with him, something that he never thought he could do. I can’t think of anything more fun than that.” †


Related story: Seven receive Catholic Youth Organization’s highest honor

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