VIRGINIA — Matt Anderson is living out his dream being a head coach in the Virginia School District.
The 31-year-old got his first taste of it last year as the boys’ track and field coach and will double up in 2019-20 after just being named the new Blue Devils head football coach.
“It’s been in my blood for a long time. It’s a family thing. My dad (Murray) and my brother (Nate) and my uncles they all did it,’’ Anderson said Monday at the high school. “It’s just an exciting thing to do for my family.’’
Anderson always wanted to be a head coach because his father held that position in the area. “I just grew up watching ball and it was something we were able to bond over.’’
He’s excited to continue to build the Blue Devil tradition in Virginia.
“I’m excited to get to work with the kids. I had one year to work with them as an assistant (last season). It’s just something I’m looking forward to. It’s one of my life goals to be a head coach. I’ve gotten the opportunity in track as well as now in football. So I want to do those to the best of my ability, as well as being a very good educator in the district as well.’’
Anderson’s coaching experience goes back to 2013 when he coached the freshman at Duluth Denfeld. He followed that up by a year in Virginia coaching the eighth-graders with his brother. From there he coached at his alma mater in Hibbing (2007 graduate) before coming to Virginia in the fall of 2018. In addition to coaching, Anderson is a Virginia physical education and health teacher.
The husband and father of three feels he brings a lot to the program.
“I bring enthusiasm, a lot of motivation. I really want to get to know the kids. I don’t want to say I’m a players’ coach, but in this day and age you kind of have to be a players’ coach getting to know the kids.’’ He believes he can motivate them, give them roles and just bring ideas to practice.
“I want to go, go, go all the time.’’
Anderson said he plans to show his players the team is going to work hard in the weight room and on the field, which will lead to the “times where we’re going to have fun.’’
Asked if he is offensive- or defensive-minded, the new coach said he’s “more defensive-minded. I like to bring some pressure, but I also like to teach the game,’’ By sitting down with them, he can give them game situations and “let them know beforehand what they’re going to see. I like game planning, cutting up film, defensive planning.’’
He also believes by getting to know the players on a personal level, “they will then trust you more and it will be a lot more fun to work together.’’
On the offensive side of the ball, Anderson sees his squad using the old school Wing T concepts and melding them with some of the air raid concepts that are out there. In addition to the bread-and-butter plays his team can go to, Anderson anticipates jumping “on some teams with some stuff they probably haven’t seen before.’’
Anderson is looking at average numbers for the team, but said he and the other coaches will be out there recruiting players to come out. “We’ll take anybody,’’ he said. “You just never know.’’
The coach especially wants the seniors to take a look at joining the team. On other teams, seniors have come out late in their sports careers and wind up wishing they would have done it a long time ago, he added.
“They get an opportunity to just go out there and be an athlete. ,,, We’ll find positions for you and we’ll make it simple for you.’’
“Don’t graduate saying I wish I would have done this. Just come out. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you,’’ Anderson said later.
While it seems like school just ended, the beginning of practice is less than two months away (Aug. 12). The first game will be Thursday, Aug. 29, against Rush City at Stock Field. Before that, he would like to see his players in the weight room and he expects to have a team camp for the upper levels in late July.
Anderson, who played center in high school and defensive end at the University of Minnesota Morris, says he was always a leader and is ready for the responsibility of being a head coach and having all eyes on him. “My decisions are what people are going to see.’’
In addition to the X’s and O’s, Anderson is focused on making the season a positive experience. “That’s my goal to is to make it a positive experience.’’