Head Football Coach Tom Matukewicz provided updates about the Redhawk Football program to the Board of Regents Sept. 25.
Matukewicz said the program is process-driven and that his philosophy is to use football to make better men of his players. He discussed the importance of winning and how winning truly validates what he and his staff teach their players. As a first-generation college graduate and the only man in his family to get a college degree, education is extremely important to him, he said.
Leadership is also important, said Matukewicz, recalling how he needed a coach in his life and that he lived with his high school coach when he was a senior. It was then when he learned that he wanted to be a leader and become a football coach so he could teach his players how to become better leaders through coaching the sport he loves.
Matukewicz spoke to his recruiting philosophy and how important it is to recruit players from our own region. He always wants to recruit local first and looks for individuals who can add value to his football program in many different ways. There is a lot of local talent on his roster and he is proud of that, he said.
Regarding messaging, Matukewicz said, “University-wide we need to do a better job of controlling our narrative and telling our stories. We have a narrative out there that we don’t need a degree to be successful and we’re letting non-educated people hijack the education message in that we need workforce development more than we need education.” Matukewicz said he disagrees with that narrative and the University needs to be relentless in delivering the SEMO message to people.
In response to a question about handling the cancellation of the fall season with the exception of one game and leading his program through the unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic, Matukewicz said, “We have to major in communication. I’m always communicating every single thing that is going on. Communication is the most important thing. I do a lot of walking around to try and get a sense of what people are going through. There is a COVID-19 hangover and our players have had to deal with more than they ever have through all this. I want to be there for them and help them.”
The Regents commended Matukewicz for the roles he and his wife, Lenna, play in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). It was recognized that his job as a football coach serves as a dual role — coaches are not only coaching football these days, but they are also coaching kids’ lives. FCA contributes to the spiritual development and well-being of his players, and Matukewicz and Lenna are intimately involved in FCA because they want to make a difference in young peoples’ lives.