By Polly Keary, Editor
It was only his first year, but it was a good one; Matt Chalfant, coach of the Monroe High School girls’ basketball team, has been named Coach of the Year by the Snohomish County Women’s Basketball Officials Association.
“I was shocked to get this award,” Chalfant said. “It’s rewarding to know that what you are doing is not only making a difference in the lives of kids but also making a difference for our community, and people are taking note of that.”
The nominees are selected by the officials, who take note throughout the season of coaches who demonstrate exceptional sportsmanship, respect for officials, and an excellent attitude toward students.
Chalfant said his experiences officiating games gave him a respect for the job the referees do.
“I’ve been a referee before, in college and for rec. leagues, stuff like that, and I know how hard it is to be a ref,” he said. “If I disagree with a call I’ll let them know, but I try to treat them with respect. I feel there’s a way to communicate to get your point across. That’s what I tell my team, and I try to lead by example.”
Chalfant, a special education teacher, came to the district in 2008 and started out as the freshmen boys’ basketball coach. He went on to coach the defensive line for the freshmen and junior varsity football teams for four years.
This fall marked Chalfant’s first season as coach of the girls’ basketball team.
He took on a team that had been through a lot of changes, including four coaches in as many years.
“For any athlete that’s a lot of turnover, and I want to make it more than anything a fun experience,” said Chalfant. “I’ll be this first to admit, I’m the most competitive guy in the world, but for us, success is about building lifelong memories, and I felt that we really accomplished that.”
It was the first time Chalfant had ever coached girls’ sports, but he had taught girls in the classroom, and so he wasn’t entirely unprepared.
“It was definitely different from coaching boys,” he said. “Girls, they want to know why, and they ask a lot of great questions, whereas boys, they go do something, no questions asked. I enjoyed that they wanted to know why and I explained the finer points of the game. It showed they cared and they wanted to do well.”
Girls also benefit more from positive reinforcement, he noted.
“I really felt like with girls, it’s a family-type atmosphere, and that’s what I tried to create,” he said.
The team had a good year, but more than that, they had a good time, he said.
So did he.
“I’m absolutely going to do it next year,” he said. He added that his award really reflects on Monroe.
“More than anything, I am so proud to represent Monroe this way,” Chalfant commented. “Yes, the award has my name on it, but I want it to belong to the community of Monroe.”