With 26 years of coaching under his belt, this head coach knows his job goes far beyond the field. Archbishop Wood High School Head Coach Matt Walp says it is important for all coaches to recognize that they are more than a coach for these players.
"It's important for coaches to understand that these young men, what they need most is good mentors and difference-makers at the high school level," said Walp, who is in his second season as the team's head coach. "To help them be able to navigate the game of life, and to be able to understand that there's a much bigger picture than just the X's and O's."
Walp has been with Archbishop Wood for eight years previously coaching the running backs, defensive backs, linebackers, and tight ends. His favorite part of coaching is getting to walk through life with his players and help prepare them for the future.
"Being able to interact and get an opportunity to meet all walks of life with different backgrounds, different areas," said Coach Walp, who graduated from nearby Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia. "We have players from all over and being able to get to know them and for them to get to know me. We get to develop a bond and a trust, that will be there for the rest of their lives."
The Vikings have had a lot of success over the past decade, including six state championship titles. Eyeing their next piece of hardware, the Vikings are 4-2 this season. Last Friday, Coach Walp guided his team to a 30-14 victory over Roman Catholic. Coach Walp was selected as the Eagles High School Coach of the Week, presented by Hyundai.
"I feel very honored. It's something that we take a lot of pride in as coaches, and as a whole program. There's a lot of great coaches at the high school level in the Philadelphia area," Coach Walp added.
A Motown music kind of guy, Coach Walp might burst into a song in the locker room if his players are lucky.
"I do it every once in a while," explained Coach Walp, whose go-to song is the Some Kind of Wonderful by Grand Funk Railroad. "The kids will laugh, and I'll belt out a tune because I like to sing. It lightens the mood with the guys, and we have those fun moments we can remember."