Matthew Barber named new cross country head coach
Colleen Slattery, Sports Editor
This year’s juniors and seniors may recognize the University of Dallas’ new head cross country and track and field coach if they see him driving up to the Maher Center. The man hired to fill former head coach Matthew Buchhorn’s position is none other than Matthew Barber, a 2013 graduate of the University of Dallas. While at UD, Barber competed in track and field himself, and he holds multiple school records, both in the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter dash. Recently, I sat down with Coach Barber to chat about his career and his hopes for this upcoming cross country season.
CS: First of all, you are a recent alumni of the school. Can you tell me what you have been doing in the past year, after your graduation?
MB: This past year, I taught theology to freshmen and sophomores at John Paul II Catholic High School in Plano, Texas. I was also an assistant coach for their high school track and field teams. And that was the part of the job that I really loved. I’ve always been interested in coaching. When I was a senior at UD, my fellow friend and classmate and I were actually unofficial coaches for the school. Having only one coach, we were assigned to watch over and regulate our respective sections of the track teams (he took the distance runners, and I was with the sprinters). We even helped out with recruiting. So, even though I was teaching, coaching was definitely part of my life this past year.
CS: What made you want to coach here at UD?
MB: I knew that I did not want to stay at John Paul II. The teaching part of the job, all the paperwork and little assignments, were not my strong suit. It was the coaching there that I had really loved. So, at the end of the year, I spread my net wide in search of coaching jobs. Former head voach Buchhorn let me know that he was leaving UD, and so I jumped at the opportunity. And here I am!
CS: You hold multiple school records at UD, and so you know what being an athlete here is like. How did you learn to balance school and sports?
MB: Note to all student-athletes out there: I know that school work demands a large part of your life. But a real job in the future will take up much more of your time. If you cannot learn to balance sports and school, you are going to have a very hard time in the real world. Now is the time to learn how to balance and thrive with the responsibilities that you have. My time as a student-athlete here at UD taught me time management and helped me learn to stick to commitments. You just have to keep your head above the water and keep up the hard work.
CS: At a school like UD, one that values academics so highly, what do you think that sports bring to the table? In other words, why is it important that the school does have competitive sports?
MB: I think that sports are important to have because they build character. They teach one perseverance [and] dedication, and they are hard work. An athlete learns so much through his sport. One of the most valuable aspects of sports is the emphasis that they put on commitment. In the real world, if you make a commitment to something, you have to carry through with it. It’s not the same as being able to put off a paper until the day it is due, writing it in a blind panic, and somehow getting a passing grade. That does not work in a sport. You have to constantly work in order to be prepared for competition. Your commitment to your teammates necessitates that you do your best every day.
CS: What are some of your goals for the season, and how are you going to work to achieve them?
MB: For the women’s and men’s teams, my goal is that they finish within the top three at conference. Further than that, I am excited to announce that we are going to Division III Regionals this season, instead of USCAA Nationals. This will be the first time in four years that the team has taken anyone to the meet. My goals for that meet is that the women place within the top 12 teams (out of a field of 25-30 teams) and that the men place within the top 15. Overall, I am excited to see what we can do this season! We have a strong showing of upperclassmen (which is not something you typically see in UD athletics). This year’s upperclassmen perfectly demonstrate what I am trying to achieve in my sport: I want to establish a culture of commitment. In this year’s senior class, I have watched throughout their career and seen how their firm dedication to the sport has totally changed their performance for the better.
In terms of how I am looking to achieve these goals, I use a four phase system to prepare the team for competition. It is progressively difficult, and then at the end of the season, it tapers because by that time, the athletes should be performing at the top of their ability.
CS: Thank you, Coach Barber, for your time. And good luck to the Crusaders this season!