Story by CINDY
Photos by SHELIA
Pooler resident, Matt Lee, has been giving his time to the children of his community for almost seven years. After marrying his beautiful sweetheart, Shannon Edwards, they moved to the Pooler area in 2004. Two years later, in 2006, they welcomed their bundle of joy, a son Logan Matthew Lee. “When Logan was 2 years old, we began playing baseball, basketball and football. By the age of 4, he was playing youth sports at the Pooler YMCA and I started volunteer coaching. When Logan turned 6 years old, we moved over to the Pooler Recreation Department and he asked me to be his coach,” a passionate Matt explained.
Parents coaching their children’s team has become a way of life for many. The dedication that is needed to become an influential role model is endless and that drive of commitment is learned, by example.
“I was raised in an Air Force family; we traveled from base to base until my father retired in Warner Robins, Georgia. We then moved to Savannah where he worked as a mechanic at Gulfstream. My father was always involved with mine and my brothers’ sports, which included baseball, basketball, football and track, until he passed away when I was eleven years old. At that point, my mother had to assume the responsibility of getting us to practices and games”, Matt remembered.
Coaching is something that Matt Lee takes seriously and holds close to his heart. He explained, “Being an older father than most, I grew up without the electronic devices that are available to kids now. I’ve seen the decline which these technological advances brought to our youth, and I vowed that my child would not become entrenched in them. I’ve coached baseball, soccer and basketball throughout the years to follow. My involvement is mostly based on spending time with Logan, but I’ve realized that my beliefs needed to be shared. I do not win the most games. I am not the best X’s and O’s coach at the Rec Dept. I want kids to want to be here. I preach practice makes perfect. I will play to kids’ strengths and we must play as a team. I feel that in-game experience will teach kids more than the few practices they get before the season starts. As far as winning, it will come.”
With several years of commitment to coaching for the Pooler Recreation Department and YMCA, Matt has had his fair share of memorable moments that he will treasure throughout his life. They include the wins, the losses and humorous adventures of children. “One of my funniest coaching experiences came from my 6U team this year. After every practice, the team would bring their hands in and I would say ‘Good job guys! Team on 3! 1-2-3 TEAM!’ After the last practice, I asked the kids what is our team name going to be? With a confused look in their eyes, they looked at me and said ‘Coach we have a name, it’s Team on 3’! It’s moments like these that keep me coaching,” he laughingly shared. Coach Matt Lee’s most cherished memory however, is watching Logan’s team (his son) win the District Tournament last year for the Pooler All-Stars.
Whether he was participating, teaching or spectating, sports has played a major role in Matt’s life. A few of his favorite teams are Dallas Cowboys, Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Braves and last but not least, Duke Basketball.
He has taken a few pointers from his favorite coach, Mike Krzyzweski from Duke University or Coach K, as he is lovingly referred. “He teaches team basketball; he mentors his kids about life outside of basketball.” Showing children how to apply rules and discipline plus comradery off the court and field, displays character. It builds a foundation for strong minds and bodies.
Matt Lee’s goals as an instructor have evolved over time. “Over the last 4 years, my role as a coach has gone from wanting a better future for my child, to wanting a better future for all children,” the dedicated father revealed. “Youth sports is a large part of it. They’ll learn the value of teamwork, improve their social skills, and become healthier. The Pooler Rec Department is a great way to start doing just that,” he continued. “So parents, I challenge you to play with your kids more, put down the electronics, and live life.”
To get your family involved with sports, The Pooler Recreation Department can be reached via www.poolerrec.com.