Glendale girls coach finds time to play hockey, watch son

Know which Inter-County Conference girls basketball coach has been at their post the longest without a break? It might surprise you to know that it’s Glendale’s John Matchock. In fact, among area girls coaches, only Bishop Guilfoyle’s Mark Moschella can say he’s held his position as long as Matchock, and only four area boys coaches were at their current posts when Matchock took over in 2002.

The Mirror recently caught up with Matchock to talk about his longevity, his team and his love of hockey.

Mirror: What’s it like to be the dean of girls basketball coaches in the ICC North?

Matchock: I don’t feel old. I don’t know. I never really thought about it. I love coaching. Every year brings a different group of girls. Seeing them improve as players and a team keeps me motivated. It’s very time consuming but when you enjoy what you’re doing, you don’t think about it.

Mirror: Did you think when you took this you’d be at it this long?

Matchock: No, I didn’t think I’d be coaching going on 11 years. But every year brings something different, so you don’t go into the same routine. That makes it more interesting. It keeps that fire burning.

Mirror: How do you feel about this year’s team? You graduated a couple of really good players but you’re still around .500.

Matchock: We’ve got seven upperclassmen. Half the team’s upperclassmen. The other half is mostly freshmen and sophomores. It’s a nice mixture. We started out good, then we had a couple of games where we didn’t play very well, but, hopefully, the last game we played against Mo Valley will help us turn things around. There are a lot of hard workers there. There’s some inexperience, but they’re learning from the older girls, which will make us better in the long run.

Mirror: Your son, Derrian, moved back to the area this year. He’s playing on the boys team. How are you still get to watch him play with your commitments as girls coach and athletic director?

Matchock: I have to be here anyway for the home games, so I get to see him play then. Then, for his away games, if we don’t have a home game, I try to make the trip. It’s nice to be able to sit back and just watch basketball without having to coach, maybe pick up something other teams run, or I might find something that we can use.

Mirror: Hockey’s your first love, though. How do you feel about the NHL coming back?

Matchock: I’m excited. That’s like my getaway. I go home or go to a Penguin game, there’s no worries for me. Usually, I’m thinking about basketball and things we can improve on. That’s my time where I can just sit back and relax and enjoy myself.

Mirror: How many hockey teams do you play on?

Matchock: Three.

Mirror: What got you interested in hockey in the first place?

Matchock: When I was in high school was when Mario Lemieux came to the Penguins. There was a bunch of hype, and I think they started to put tape-delay games on KDKA. For some reason, I started watching it, and it just took off from there. Now I do it to meet new people, have some fun, but, also, to stay in shape.

Mirror: When you took over the Glendale girls, that was your first coaching job, wasn’t it?

Matchock: I helped Gregg Mazenko with the junior high boys for a year. It’s nice having some good coaches at Glendale like him and Rick Stackhouse who I can go to for advice.

Mirror: How are you different as a coach now from when you took over?

Matchock: The biggest thing is I’m more patient with things. When I first started out, I’d get bent out of shape over any little thing. Now I realize a game is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. When I first started coaching, I think I mostly watched the ball. Now I spend more time watching what’s going on away from the ball. Every year, I think I learn. I wish I knew then what I know now, but that’s coaching. You just keep trying to improve.