Written 2/2022 Updated 11/23
When it comes to applying for jobs, most recent college graduates struggle with the experience part of the application. Often, companies want three to five years of experience and many times, experience is something that most applicants can’t provide. This didn’t stop Erin Matson, who recently became the newest head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels Field Hockey team at just 22 years old.
Erin Matson began her field hockey journey at the age of six when she enrolled in her first clinic. A decade later, she became one of just two 16-year-olds ever to make the USA Field Hockey team.
After high school, she took her talents to UNC, where she had one of the most illustrious careers in North Carolina history, earning the nickname “the Michael Jordan of field hockey.” In her five-year career at Chapel Hill, she was a four-time national champion, going undefeated for three seasons. She was also named ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year for five consecutive seasons.
Off the field, the PR and advertising major leveraged her NIL opportunities as a student-athlete to turn a blog she started in college into a clothing line with a mission to inspire others. In addition to producing clothes, her company, ONE, also works to educate college athletes on NIL opportunities. This first-hand knowledge on Name Image and Likeness is a huge asset for both the team and the university in the constantly evolving NCAA landscape.
A New Era
As Matson prepares for her first season as head coach, she looks to build on what her mentor and former coach, Karen Shelton, built over her four-decade career. Matson admits that the transition may be difficult for both her and her former teammates, but she knows she is up for the challenge.
“We have a winning way, so I’m planning on keeping it that way,” Matson told reporters. “It’s exciting to look at areas that I can impact, things we can tweak, modernizing some things, making it more relatable to the young recruits and generation and everything, while of course respecting the boundaries.”
A Winning Tradition
In her first season as head coach in Chapel Hill, she did indeed continue to win. In the 2023 season, the Tar Heels went 14-3, capturing the program’s 7th consecutive ACC title with a 2-0 win over Duke in early November. This marks another history-making achievement for her resume. With this win, she became the first coach in ACC Field Hockey history to win a conference title as a first-year coach. The Tar Heels will now enter the NCAA tournament as the number-one team in the country later this month.
Matson’s strategy of using her youth, something others may view as a stumbling block, to her advantage is working, and her success so far this season is proof of that. We can do the same in our daily lives.
If we use our challenges to our advantage, we can be unstoppable when chasing our dreams.
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