Pls tell us a bit about your volleyball background. The first time you played volleyball? Where did you play in highschool? NCAA career highlights? International Debut? Club teams past/present?
I started Volley freshmen year in high school, age 14. I grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY and went to West Seneca West Senior High. I went to Penn State for 3yrs, and the biggest accomplishments had to be during my junior yr. We won the NCAA title, I was named EIVA and co-NCAA POY, and won MOP for both the EIVA and NCAA championship tournaments. My international debut was way back in the summer of 2005 when I went to a 4-team tournament in Brasil, with the YNT. My debut with the MNT was this past summer during World League. I’ve only played for one professional club and that is the Hyundai Capital Skywalker. This is my second year with them.
Of all the countries with Professional Leagues, why Korea? What's the best thing/s about Korea, Korean Volleyball and Koreans? If there's a place or spot you suggest people to check out in Korea, where and what would it be?
Well I really didn’t choose Korea, it kind of chose me. I was approached with a contract for a club in Japan, but it was picked up by someone else before I could respond with a “Yes”. I figured I would see what else was out there and Korea was it. The best things about the KVL is that they teach great technique with every skill, and they have a true passion and respect for the game of volleyball. I have never been, but my teammate vacation to a place called JeJu(sp?) Island. It is in the Southern part of Korea and I guess it is beautiful. Otherwise, Seoul is always a fun time.
Other language/s you speak?
I am not fluent in any other languages than English. I know some Spanish, Korean, and a couple greetings in Italian. I hope to become fluent in Italian and Spanish at some point.
Stats pls: Height? Weight? Spike and Block reach? Shoe size? etc...
I’m 6’10” with shoes on and about 200lbs. Im not sure exactly what my spike and block reaches are but in college they were 11’11.5” for spike and 11’ for block. For shoes I wear 14’s in some brands and 15’s in others.
USA jersey #? Korean club jersey #?
For team USA, I wear #1 and my Korean club, #15.
What can you say about the USA Volleyball program in general? The MEN's team? Coack Knipe's coaching style?
Its always been a dream of mine since I got serious with volleyball to play with the National team. The people that run USAV have been with the program in some way for quite awhile, whether it was coaching, playing or setting up the promotional parts. It is being run to the best of their abilities and I have no complaints. The guys on the team are awesome. I have made some great friends so far from just a couple summers. The older guys like to be respected for their many years with the team and that is understandable, but they never push it to the unreasonable level. They know that us younger guys are the future of the program and they want us to succeed just as much, even if that means taking their spot. However, they wont give it to us easily, we have to earn every opportunity we get.
What are your career goals this year?
Obviously, number 1 is to get back to full strength. 2, try to help my club in Korea win a championship, but really I just want to be able to look back and be happy with my contributions to this club.
What are you made of as a player? What are the traits and skills you've discovered in you as your career starts to take off and reach higher heights and greener fields??
I think that I have a pretty resilient mindset on the court. I might not show it with my body language all the time, but I like to think that I can compete with the best of the best at any given time. Traits that help me are my height, my jump and my arm swing technique. My ability to be an athlete helps me too. Playing volleyball just feels natural to me. I love the game and I think that is what really helps me succeed in the game.
Volleyball is ... My life.
What is your guiding principle in life?
Life is too short to not experience all of the wonders that are on your doorstep.
Matt is ... Fun to be around.
If you can change 3 things in the world right now, what would they be?
Education in the US so we stop being considered the most stupid and fattest country in the modern world, Remove Religious conflicts, so our troops can come home, and have the economies of the world rebound.
If Volleyball never existed, you would've been a ?
P.E. teacher back home
A little kid comes up to you and tells you he/ she is your biggest fan and then ask you..How Can I Be Like You Matt? What would you tell the kid.
Believe in yourself. Don’t aspire to be me, aspire to be better than me and change the game of volleyball to make it yours and to grow a love for the game.
source (interview + pics): http://www.facebook.com/pages/…CA/VOLLEYWOOD/83953735664