By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The “Getting to Know” series is designed to help the community learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Southeast High School boys basketball coach Mike Matisi, who is in his fifth season leading the Pirates’ program.
Q: What schools did you attend?
A: I attended Loswellville (K-12). Ultimately, three different buildings, but all within the Lowellville school system. Class of 2011. I played basketball and tennis and ran cross country and track.
A: Westminster College (Class of 2015). Dual major in Elementary Education and Special Education.
Q: Current occupation?
A: 4th grade reading at Southeast Intermediate. (Shout out to my 4th graders!).
Q: What inspired you to become a coach?
A: I grew up in the gym with my dad. He has been my inspiration to be a coach. He is in his 30th season as a girls coach and recently won his 500th career game. I still remember going to practice with him, running amok in the old LHS gym and high-school hallways.
Q: What makes being a coach at Southeast special to you?
A: Being a coach at Southeast is special because I also teach here. I’ve been looking forward to and now coach players that I’ve head in the classroom as fourth-graders. Tells you how fast time goes. To build those lasting relationships during an impressionable time in their lives is something I do not take for granted.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence and mentor as a coach?
A: The coaches that I have had in my basketball and tennis life.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your playing days?
A: I was suspended for two games during my senior year for amassing six fouls (two of them being technicals). No swear words were used believe it or not!
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your coaching career?
A: I received a technical foul for telling a ref that, “He couldn’t guard me” and another tech for asking, “Is it because I’m bald?” (The ref was also bald).
Q: Favorite TV show?
Q: Favorite movie?
A: It is a tie between Remember the Titans and Seven Pounds.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
Q: Favorite food or meal?
A: Chicken Alfredo with bowtie pasta from Combine Brothers (Hermitage, Pa.).
Q: Best vacation?
A: Ocean Isle, N.C., each summer with my family.
Q: Favorite motto or quote?
A: Now and forever #RightTheShip. Also, “How you do anything, is how you do everything,” which is true in hoops and in life.
Q: Describe your coaching philosophy.
A: My coaching philosophy is centered around being a good human being. Once that is figured out, you can then learn how to play the sport of basketball. Steve Kerr recently brought up in an interview, “People play basketball the way they live their life.” I’ll show you how to be successful in life and on a basketball court, it is your job to work at it and then go do it. It is a simple game!
Q: What does it mean to you to be a Pirates student-athlete?
A: Being a Pirates student-athlete means giving maximum effort, attitude and trust in your teachers, coaches and community. In success AND failure, you have to grit, grind and execute daily choices in life and basketball.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
A: Barry Dyngles (Austintown).
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: Pam Iarussi. She was our biggest support as middle school basketball p[layers and pushed me to be a better student.
Q: Advice you would give the younger version of yourself?
A: Do it your own way and be you. Approach situations with how Mike Matisi would handle it and not compare your style of coaching or teaching to others.
Q: Favorite coach?
A: I have a ton of admiration for Geno Auriemma and the dynasty he has built at UConn. He does things the right way and recruits good human beings first.
Q: Coaching resume.
A: YMCA Mad Dogs head coach, 1 year; Lowellville freshman boys head coach, 2 years; South Range junior varsity head coach, 2 years; Southeast High School boys head coach, 5 years.
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: Sacramento Kings (at the time of this interview, they are on a 7-game win streak#,LightTheBeam), Michigan Wolverines, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Guardians.
Q: Favorite athlete then?
A: Mike Bibby and Jason Williams.
Q: Favorite athlete now?
A: De’Aaron Fox.
Q: First job as a teenager?
A: Summer recreation director in Lowellville.
Q: Shoutout to former teammates.
A: Danny Thomas, AJ Barnhardt, Gordon Lyng, JBreezy, Doug Smith, Nick and Blake Shepherd, Drew DeVine, Cory Urban, Anthony Thomas, Reuben King, Ronny Martino, Evan Harville, Max Spinner and all my Lowellville teammates!
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