Andrew Matias: Not Your Average Athlete

By Nick Goldwyn

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It all started on a beautiful mid-spring day. The birds were chirping and there wasn’t a cloud in the perfectly blue sky. It seemed like the best day ever, that was until something went wrong for then freshman Andrew Matias.

They were playing softball in gym that day, but still the day seemed pretty normal. They had played softball in gym every day that week and nothing had happened, so why would today be any different? But then it happened. A ground ball up the middle came to Matias, who was playing second base. He turned to throw to first, but as he did both his world and his leg shattered. A hard slide broke his leg and put Matiasout of sports for the rest of the year, but that didn’t hinder his athletic skills at all.

Matias, number 46, pictured with his football teammates.

Fast forward two and a half years, and it’s now nearing the end of Matias senior football season. He lines up as he has all night,right in the heart of the defense at middle linebacker. The other team breaks the huddle and Matias moves to the line showing blitz. As the ball is snapped Matias reads that it’s going to be a running play and jumps into action.  He looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon as he pursues the ball carrier at break neck speed. He eventually meets his target right in the middle of the offensive line, and still manages to plant the running back on his back for a measly gain of one yard. As family, friends, and fans cheer his name after his tackle, and as he jogs back off the field satisfied with his hit, it is impossible to see how even an injury as serious as a broken leg could have ever slowed him down.

In school Andrew Matias is a chameleon of sorts, he has been involved with three sports per year all four years, and still has enough time to be a freshman mentor and a member of the school band.  He’s extremely outgoing, as well as incredibly charismatic, and just a tiny bit funny. He loves to try new things (like online pool which he is currently obsessed with), and he will try almost anything once.

Matias is also incredibly gifted athletically; he has played on five sports teams here at West and excelled at all of them. He was a captain of the football team this year, as well as a standout performer on the wrestling team in the 160-pound division (even though that season was also cut short by injury), and now he’s even trying his luck at gymnastics.

Matias practices for his next gymnastics meet.

His newest coach, boys’ gymnastics head coach, Adrian Batista, said that even though Andrew isn’t the best gymnast yet, he’s one of the hardest working and most perseverant.

“Andrew Matias is a very motivated and positive athlete. He is working very hard to be able to compete after just joining our sport a month ago. He brings positive energy and enthusiasm and fits in with our team. As an individual, Andrew is polite, respectful and outgoing. We are happy he has joined our team,” said Batista.

His younger sister, Miranda, adds that he has always been a hard worker and that through everything he has been through he has always just worked through it. Andrew likes to say that all you need in football is heart, but that statement can be applied to the rest of his life, where he has battled through multiple serious lower body injuries during his time at West, and still has become a standout athlete. With all that in mind, the NWN sat down with Andrew Matias to talk about not only sports and school, but also what makes him continue to persevere.

NWN: When did you start playing sports?

Matias: I started playing sports when I was four years old.

NWN: What is your favorite sport?

Matias: I would have to say that my favorite sport is football.

NWN: Why is football your favorite sport?

Matias: I enjoy football because the sport requires heart. You don’t have to be the biggest, fastest, strongest, or best to succeed, you just need courage, determination, and heart.

NWN: Other than football you’ve competed for a lot of other sports teams at West, what are they all?

Matias: I’ve played basketball and baseball. I’ve also wrestled for the school, tried track and gymnastics, and, of course, I’ve played football all four years. I was only on the basketball team my freshman year. I played baseball both freshman and sophomore year, and then junior year I picked up wrestling as well.

NWN: How did you get into football?

Matias: At St. Peters they had a feeder football program, and I wasn’t the most physically fit kid as a child so I decided to try out to see if I could become healthier. I really liked the sport itself as soon as I joined it, and I eventually became pretty good at it so I decided to continue playing in high school.

Matias pictured at one of his wrestling matches

NWN: How did you get into Wrestling?

Matias: Coaches on the football team told me I should try out wrestling because it would help me improve as a football player, so I tried it out and I really enjoyed the sport for what it is, so I stuck with it.

NWN: Are you going to continue playing sports in college?

Matias: I am still deciding where I should go to college, but I would really love to continue playing football in college so I’m seriously considering going to a division 3 school so that I can continue to play football.

NWN: What colleges are you looking at?

Matias: Carroll University in Wisconsin is one of the schools I’ve been looking at. They have great athletics and academics and I could get to continue to play football there.

NWN: What other after school activities are you involved with at West?

Matias: I’m in the band, I play the baritone, and I’m also a freshman mentor.

NWN: Tell me a little bit about wrestling since we’ve talked so much about football…

Matias: Well, I tried really hard to be a captain of both the football and wrestling teams this year, but I couldn’t become a captain of wrestling because I had a couple of bad matchs in a row, one where I got pinned, so they didn’t pick me to be a captain. But I worked hard and wrestled well the rest of the season, and even though I had that injury (a couple of stitches on his forehead after getting cut during a match), I still had a pretty good year.

NWN: So you’ve battled through a lot of injuries, tell me about them…

Matias: I’ve sprained my ankle twice, broken my femur, and sprained my MCL in wrestling.

NWN: And you’ve always come back better at your sport, how have you motivated yourself to get better after all these injuries?

Matias: Well, I just tell myself that because I like the sport, I have to get better and come back better otherwise my spot on the team will be given to someone else and then I wont be able to play anymore.

NWN: What, if anything, have all of these injuries taught you?

Matias: I’ve learned that to come back from injury all you need is heart. And if you have a lot of heart, courage, and determination, you can do pretty well. I’ve also found that after high school I want to become a physical therapist because I want to help people bounce back from injuries just like the physical therapists I’ve worked with have helped me.

As the interview drew to a close, it became even clearer to me that he is the eternal optomist. Just like his outlook on injuries in sports his outlook on online pool is quite optimistic. He loses a match before I leave, but it doesn’t really seem to effect him. He simply shrugs off the defeat with a shoulder movement and a laugh before saying “it’s okay, I’ll win the next one.”