Winning championships is nothing new for Northeastern boys’ volleyball coach Matt Wilson.
He's won at every level possible with the Bobcats — league, district and state — as both a player and a coach.
In his more than 20 years as the head coach for the Bobcats, Wilson has become synonymous with success. He’s led the school to six of its eight PIAA titles, as well as eight District 3 Class 2-A crowns.
Not all success is the same, however.
Some, such as this past year, when Northeastern won its fifth straight PIAA Class 2-A title, are more special than others.
That's because this year’s state championship was the first one that the longtime coach won with his two sons — Nate, a freshman, and Drew, a junior — on the team’s roster.
“They are all very, very special,” Matt Wilson said. “But this one, obviously for me personally, stands out more to be able to have both of my kids on the roster and making contributions throughout the season.”
Brought up around the sport: While both Nate and Drew excel in other sports — Nate with basketball and Drew with swimming — the Wilson brothers have been brought up around the sport of volleyball their entire lives. Their mother, Teresa, was a very successful coach with the Northeastern girls’ volleyball team. Their dad, of course, won two state titles at Northeastern in high school before playing in college at Ohio State and then taking over the high school program.
On the volleyball court, the two Wilson boys are unique in their own way. While each provides glimpses of both their mom and dad in their styles of play, they certainly are not carbon copy images of their dad.
That’s all fine with him.
“They’re both very different players and very different athletes,” Matt Wilson said. “But, they are both extremely successful in their own way. And I think that’s what's great about them. They’re best friends and I think that they love to watch each other succeed.”
For Drew, a dream come true: Drew, who made it to the PIAA Class 3-A finals in the 200 freestyle this winter, grew up watching Northeastern volleyball matches when he was younger. He remembers some of the best players and teams in school history. And he dreamed that one day he would be a part of it, as well.
“It’s really special to me because I’ve grown up around volleyball my whole life,” he said. “As a little kid, I can remember going to those state championships. I sat in the stands at all of those games and watched my dad. And now, finally getting to be able to do it with my brother, my dad and my mom there, it’s really, really special.”
Nate enjoys getting state gold medal of his own: Nate, who nearly won a state title with the Northeastern boys’ basketball team this winter, certainly noticed all of the hardware that his father brought home seemingly every year. While he doesn’t believe that he'll ever surpass the total number of medals of his father, he certainly is enjoying to finally getting one he could call his own.
“It’s the first time that I officially won a state championship,” Nate said. “Like every other one that my dad won, I felt like I won it too because he comes home every year with a state medal. But this I can call my own and I can feel the way that he feels.”
A final family opportunity in 2018: While the expectation is for the Northeastern boys’ volleyball team to win a state championship every year, the Wilson family knows that there aren’t too many chances to win it like they did this year. Drew will be a senior next year, so the 2018 season will be the final opportunity for them to do it together.
“When you’ve been coaching for 21 years you sort of do this with everyone else’s son,” Matt Wilson said. “And you sort of dream for that moment for when you are fortunate to have your own sons involved. And to have it all culminate into that one moment where it feels as if it was all worth it is special.”
Don't forget Teresa: While Matt, Nate and Drew all cherished their time on the court together this spring, don’t think that they have forgotten about Teresa.
Coach Wilson is hoping to find a way to get his wife a medal of her own too next spring.
“I know this,” Matt Wilson said. “She deserves one every year and there’s no doubt about that.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.