Motivated team player, always puts school first

By: Brandon MacLeod

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Oct 05, 2010 06:00 am

Matthew Church pushes through the defence at Voyageurs practice Sept. 28.
Matthew Church pushes through the defence at Voyageurs practice Sept. 28.
Brandon MacLeod

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This Future Star is a standout in volleyball, basketball, football and baseball. This Future Star maintains honours in school. This Future Star is motivated by his parents and teammates and has managed serious challenges in his life. This Future Star is Matthew Church.

Matthew loves sports and tries to get involved in as many as possible throughout the year. He is currently in Grade 12 and has organized his sports schedule to play football and volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and then as soon as spring hits and he spots the first blade of green grass he puts on his hat and glove and focuses on baseball.

For a coach, a multi-sport athlete can sometimes be hard to teach or rely on, but Matthew is a different athlete. He is dedicated to every team he plays on. His football coach Brian Walsh said, “Matthew is very reliable…he is an intelligent athlete that can pick things up quickly, which makes it easier as a coach.”

Matthew really likes the team aspect of sports, which is partly the reason for his choice of sports he plays. He said he does not like the spotlight focused on him, rather he likes to contribute to overall team success. “I compete to the best of my abilities to help out the team…I would rather win as a team.”

Despite the wide array of sports Matthew participates in, he is clear on which sport is his favourite and which he would like to pursue in the future: “Baseball is my number one sport.” He grew up watching his parents’ soft ball games. After the games he and his dad would play ball with each other and this grew into a desire to join a baseball league. Once started in baseball, Matthew took to it quickly. He practiced batting on his own and with his dad; he also attended camps to work on the fundamentals of the game. His skills began to improve dramatically and he was drawn to more competitive ball.

This past summer Matthew played Midget AA competitive baseball. He faced some of the toughest pitching at that level in Alberta. That did not faze him. He had a batting average of 0.525, slugging percentage of 0.607 and an on-base percentage of 0.622, all of which are far above average. But the most telling stat of his year: only three strikeouts all season. Limiting his strikeouts is a sign of having a plan and sticking with it, said Matthew. Batting is one of the most difficult things to do successfully in sport and Matthew feels that batting is one of his more prominent skills. He still works on his swing anytime he gets a chance, feeling that although he has had some success, he can still improve significantly.

As good as he is at sports, Matthew is no one-trick pony. Matthew has maintained honours in school through junior and senior high. “I enjoy school quite a bit.” He said school gives him the chance to see all his friends that he does not play sports with. Matthew sees himself as a science and math kind of guy. “They came naturally and they interested me more than English or Social (studies).”

Upon finishing high school Matthew plans to go on to post-secondary, but also continue with sports, in particular baseball. He currently plans to attend either Nait or Sait to take Medical Diagnostic Sonography. He said, ideally he would go to Sait – he could then play baseball for the Calgary Dinos while attending school.

Matthew said that he has received a lot of support growing up and playing so many sports. Even at a young age he has always felt the need to give back to the community and people that have supported him. This has led him to volunteer his time to coaching and helping younger athletes out. “I see the importance of giving back,” he said. He also referees hockey and umpires baseball and works at the golf course during the summer to help with some of the financials aspects of playing sports and being young.

Matthew is very well spoken and presents himself in a mature manner. He attributes these qualities to the life skills and experience he got from being part of the 4H club. The club helped him gain valuable public speaking skills, and he said he would recommend 4H to anyone. “It helps out a lot.”

But, not everything in Matthew’s life has gone smoothly. At the age of nine Matthew was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. However, he did not let this slow him down. “Managing your diet is the biggest thing…you can’t just go out and chug three slurpees,” he said. Sports play a big role in managing diabetes by keeping him active, in shape and helping to control his blood sugar level.

And when Matthew is not playing sports, or going to school, or working, or volunteering, he still likes to remain active.

He said his two favourite activities when at home on the farm are to take the quad out and go exploring, or to take the horse for a ride. If by chance the weather is not cooperating and Matthew is unable to be active outdoors, he will then resort to relaxing on the couch or playing video games with his brothers.

With not a lot of time to relax, it’s a wonder what motivates Matthew. “My parents motivate me the most,” he said, explaining that they have done so much for him that it would be a waste and unfair to those who have helped him along the way to not try his hardest at everything he does. He said that his teammates are also a big motivation for him. “They support you and you want to give back your best effort.”

Matthew dreams of the day that he wins the Grey Cup or the World Series, not for himself, but to share it with teammates,


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