If your kids play lacrosse, you’ve probably heard of Matt Podwoski. If they don’t, it’s his mission that they do. Podwoski has been coaching lacrosse for the past twenty years, using his passion of the sport to bring program to local schools, the YMCA of Montclair, MSU and summer camp.
Barista Kids recently spoke to the Montclair dad, who also happens to be a teacher, about when his passion for lacrosse, a sport that originated over 900 years ago:
BK: Where are you from originally?
Matt: I grew up in Brooklyn in a very tight community playing baseball, basketball, and soccer for my local parish.
BK: When did you move to Montclair?
Matt: I moved to Montclair in 2002. I was drawn to the diversity and neighborhood feel, it reminds me of Brooklyn, great people and a wonderful place to start a family and establish roots.
BK: When did you start playing lacrosse?
Matt: During my sophomore year in high school. Midwood High School was establishing the first public high school lacrosse program in Brooklyn. My coach, Paul Chakrian, recruited my whole midfield line off the basketball court during gym class. Great sales pitch — all three of us played college lacrosse at a highly competitive level. Walking around the streets and subways of Brooklyn with a lacrosse stick was a trip, no one had seen one before. It built character and team work, establishing a successful program that would compete against private schools throughout the tri-state area.
BK: It’s your 20th year coaching. Tell me more about where you have coached and what you do now.
Matt: After graduating from Lafayette College in 1994, I started teaching and coaching at Midwood. I wanted to give back and help the program grow. I became the head coach in 1997, taking over for my mentor and high school coach, Paul Chakrian. His energy, vision, hard work, and passion for life and lacrosse influence me on a daily basis. Midwood’s lacrosse program went on to win six PSAL championships and helped send many players to college.
After leaving Midwood, I moved to California, continued teaching, got married, earned my master’s degree, did a lot of traveling, and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor sports life: snowboarding, biking, did a few triathlons, and even ran a marathon.
We we moved to New Jersey, I got a job teaching in Boonton and took over as head coach for a very successful and storied lacrosse program. I coached three seasons at Boonton, won a conference championship, coached two teams that finished the season ranked in the Star-Ledger top 20, helped send a nice bunch of players to college. Those players are now coaching competitive teams in New Jersey and we regularly share ideas and scouting reports. I stepped away to start a family.
While volunteering for the Lacrosse Club of Montclair, I helped organize our first “Rookie Day,” a free day of lacrosse offered to anyone in the community interested in learning more about lacrosse. We had a great turn out of coaches, alumni, and new families and players; sharing and learning about lacrosse. Additionally, from 2009-2011, I helped establish an after school lacrosse program at the Montclair YMCA and also introduced lacrosse curriculum to the Montclair State University Gifted and Talented Program.
In 2010, I had an opportunity to join the Livingston Lacrosse staff. We have had a successful run, and I very much enjoy working with the staff, administration, parents and players at Livingston. Most of all, I enjoy the community that we have established, playing an influential and positive role in the lives of these young men.
BK: What do you love about lacrosse? What motivates you?
Matt: I love the community in lacrosse. Everyone who has played the game or just fallen in love with it is part of an open and dynamic fraternity. I love getting new kids involved with the game. It is such a fast paced and exciting game, the sales pitch is so easy! In the same way my coach recruited me, I am constantly talking to kids and families about the benefits of the game.
BK: How old is your son and does he play lacrosse?
Matt: My son is turning 10 next month, enjoys playing lacrosse and has met some great families and friends here in Montclair on the lacrosse field.
BK: What’s your idea of a perfect weekend?
Matt: Perfect weekend – Vermont. Morning mountain bike ride with friends. Afternoon hike to waterfalls. Evening BBQ, music, friends, kids, fun! Do it all over again the next day at a different spot!