By Casey Pickard
As a high schooler, Lewis & Clark’s head women’s volleyball coach knew she wanted to inspire young women through coaching. Coach Stacie Matz-Gordon was first introduced to volleyball when her older sister began playing around age 12.
“I idolized her,” Matz-Gordon said. “I just wanted to do everything my older sister did.”
Matz-Gordon would wear her sister’s jerseys which were too large for her and cheer for the team at their tournaments. During that time she got the chance to hit the volleyball around on her own.
“I just knew this was my sport,” Matz-Gordon said. “I tried out the next year and it ended up that it was the best fit physically for me because I’m a tall, tall female.”
Being surrounded by other girls that had a similar physique to Matz-Gordon made her feel “awesome” and helped her fall in love with the sport right away.
Her experience in college volleyball began at Western Oregon University, a Division II school in Monmouth. After playing for two seasons, she decided to transfer to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) searching for an “academically based” college experience. PLU happens to be in the same conference as LC. In fact, Matz-Gordon’s former coach still works for PLU and she remains close to him.
“Now I coach against my alma mater during the season which is super fun,” Matz-Gordon said. “He mentors me, it’s a really fun experience.”
Her draw to coaching volleyball began early on in high school as her coach was “transformational.”
“I just looked up to her so much,” Matz-Gordon said. “She was such a role model to me.”
It was then that Matz-Gordon first thought that she wanted to help young women grow and “be guided into what they’re supposed to be.” She also knew at that point that she wanted to coach in some capacity. However she didn’t yet know what that would look like.
She gained her first coaching position right out of high school with a club volleyball team and enjoyed it. That changed when she started coaching a high school team.
“I thought very quickly that it wasn’t for me,” Matz-Gordon said. “It’s a totally different experience when you coach high school level.”
It was after that experience that she realized coaching college volleyball was the right fit for her as it best fit her skill set and, as she predicted, it quickly became her passion.
“When I graduated college all of the stars aligned and the universe helped me out and I literally got my dream job,” Matz-Gordon said.
She was 27 when she first started coaching at LC in 2012 and she knew instantly that it was the right place for her.
One of the main differences Matz-Gordon found between coaching for high school and for college volleyball teams was the maturity level. She explained that in high school, students attend their school based on their district; college students make the decision to be at a particular institution.
“Their hearts are already invested here at LC so you know they want to be here,” Matz-Gordon said. “The rigors of collegiate athletes are so intense. What a student athlete goes through and sacrifices for the name of the institution is amazing.”
She also added that she enjoys working with students who are fully invested, committed and believe in what they’re doing.
“It’s hard to not be passionate about what you do,” Matz-Gordon said, “The people that I work with everyday inside of this department and my girls definitely keep me going.”
Anneke Banda ’18 recently finished her last season as a Pioneer volleyball player. She said that Matz-Gordon taught the team how to stay strong and continue to push themselves no matter what the results were.
“One of her best features is that she really knows how to bring all of us together,” Banda said. “She’s really there for support.”
Although the women’s volleyball team is much smaller now than in years prior, Matz-Gordon is determined to continue inspiring her team of young women.