Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll features eight UMass women’s soccer players

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(Daily Collegian File Photo)

Fifty six. That’s how many student-athletes on the University of Massachusetts women’s soccer team have made it on the Atlantic 10 Conference Commissioners Honor Roll since coach Ed Matz took over in 2010.

In order to make this list, student-athletes must obtain a 3.5 grade point average or higher for either the fall or spring semester.

Senior kinesiology major Cassidy Babin, graduated psychology major Daniela Alvarez, senior sociology major Danielle Farano, junior management major Paige Kozlowski, sophomore biology major Sini Laaksonen, former redshirt junior kinesiology and biology major Jackie Miller, senior hospitality and tourism management major Natalie Perussault and junior food science major Peyton Ryan all made the list this past year.

For most of the Minutewomen student-athletes, it is their first time on the list. For Babin, however, it’s her third time receiving the accolade.

“Maturity, if I could say it in one word,” Matz said of Babin. “Cassidy was a mature player coming in and she is also one that has a good personality. She’s one you’ll see studying on the bus and in the hotel, she’s one that [isn’t] afraid to give advice to younger players.”

Before he was hired at UMass, Matz decided to take it upon himself to check out the student-athlete study hall system and what former coach Angela Napoli had set as academic requirements.

What he initially found was shocking and immediately drove him to reform the team’s academic standards. Napoli had set a GPA minimum of 2.3 to play for the soccer team. Matz quickly changed the GPA minimum to 3.0, a standard that was set by the time he started recruiting his first freshman class.

“Since I’ve been here, the first thing I did was look at the student requirements and saw what the previous staff required. It was a 2.3 and you had to go to study hall, I said that’s not good enough,” Matz said.

Matz also established a study hall system during road games and a mentorship program where upperclassmen do homework on the busses. He requires all student-athletes to get their work done before anything else.

“At UMass, we’re able to get weekly reports from faculty and staff,” Matz added. “I think UMass does a great job, even though we’re a large University.”

In fact, just last season, Matz and his staff got a note from a professor about a player who wasn’t participating in class very often. After sitting down with said player, Matz helped her turn her grades around and she finished the semester with an A-minus in the class.

Matz said his philosophy when recruiting student-athletes is to not only look at the way they play on the field, but he also looks at them as a person off the field, both academically and personally. He said he recruits players who are great on the field,  but also great in the community.

In addition to helping players figure out their career aspirations through one-on-one conversations starting at the beginning of junior year, Matz tries to instill a sense of independence in his team starting on day one.

“I tell them that, ‘Hey, my job isn’t to knock on your door and make sure you’re going to class,’” Matz said. “We’re here for your academics, but we’re not here to walk you to class. Every one of our students gets it.”

“Certain sports make sure student-athletes are going to class, but that’s not what we’re about,” Matz added. “If you don’t want to go to class, then we don’t want you in our program.”

Zander Manning can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @ZMSportsReport.

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