Who Is Matt Labrum?
When Coach Matt Labrum got a whiff of the sluffing, the poor grades, and the cyberbullying, he knew he had to take action. Through a bit of investigation, he learned that football players from his team were responsible for these actions and knew that he needed to teach a lesson about accountability.
After a series of discussions with members of faculty, assistant coaches, etc., he decided to suspend his entire football team for a season. Word got out. After a few local news stations interviewed him for his decision, he received a call from Anderson Cooper on CNN. The story went worldwide, praising the coach for his actions.
Coach Labrum, however, remained very humble and shared that he didn’t want this to be about him. He wanted the students to know that poor decisions won’t go without their consequences. Coach Labrum sat with me for a bit and chatted about his personal philosophy and what we can do during these times of struggles brought on by unprecedented circumstances. Enjoy!
Most educators understand the importance of “character-building” and self-improvement. But Union High School coach Matt Labrum took the concept to a whole new level back in 2013, threatening to suspend the entire football team for a year following cyberbullying reports.
According to reports in the Deseret News, Labrum and the coaching staff sat down in September 2013 to discuss low grades and bullying endemic. Following the meeting, they told team members to turn in their uniforms and equipment, making it clear that they would not be allowed to return to the training field until things improved. The problem wasn’t the performance on the field but the pitiful displays of character off it. Team members needed to improve, not as players, but as human beings before returning.
Labrum came to the decision following increasing numbers of reports from students and school officials of poor player behavior. He used a masked identity account on Facebook to identify the culprits and confirm their unbecoming conduct. The evidence he collected suggested that bullying was a serious problem and that team members were targeting vulnerable individuals online. These issues, however, were only the tip of the iceberg. Players on the team were also struggling with their academic work and verbally abusing teachers in the classroom. The threatened twelve-month hiatus, Labrum hoped, would shock players into action, encouraging them to improve their lives off the field to get back on it.
On the Saturday morning before the suspension, Labrum gave each team member a letter explaining why he had decided to suspend them. The justifications included the reasons mentioned above — specifically poor behavior, bullying, and disgraceful academic performance. The team was doing fine on the field, he said, but it was everything off it that was causing concern and was the reason for the suspension. Labrum also told the eighty or so players concerned that playing football was a privilege. He implored them to uphold the sport’s honor and use their personal lives to shine, regardless of their field performance.
Labrum and the rest of the coaching staff felt that everything was going in the wrong direction. He told a local newspaper that young men were getting into trouble needlessly, harming their collegiate prospects. He and the rest of the staff had to make a stand. Although the suspension only lasted a day, the effects on the team were dramatic. The school elected five new captains to get rid of the old leadership and began conducting community work instead of practicing for an upcoming game. Furthermore, some of the students had to attend a class on character development — something Labrum hoped would give them the life skills to improve their classwork and interactions with other players.
There was another rule, too: academically failing players must attend all their classes and demonstrate evidence of improvement before being readmitted to the team. If they didn’t, they would remain off it long-term. Labrum’s scare tactics worked. Struggling players soon began upping their game off the field, chipping in for the community, and working harder in school. Standards quickly improved, and online bullying came to an abrupt end. Just a day later, Labrum reinstated 41 seniors, with only nine team members still banned from returning to the field for various reasons.
Because Labrum’s actions were so immediate and decisive, the news soon got out. Labrum told KSL.com that, in general, the guys handled it well. Some team members were thrilled to get back on the field and practice their skills immediately, while others had mixed emotions. Following several interviews on local stations, he received a call from CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Soon after, the story went global, praising the coach for his decisive actions.
Labrum says that he didn’t expect the level of coverage the story received. He says that he was acting in accordance with his duties as a mentor and coach. When deciding to ban football practice for a year, he didn’t anticipate that it could help change students’ behavior across the country. By setting an example, though, that is precisely what has happened. Now coaches all over the country can see that their power to help young people lead successful lives extends well beyond their roles as football coaches.
Following the incident, Labrum says that his team can now inspire the entire nation by showing them what a football team can be. He points out that the reputation of high school football players needs to improve. If players do the right things, they can help build the local community and become the best young adults they can be.
Matt Labrum Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey guys, welcome to the Lemonade Stand podcast. This is your host Charan Prabhakar, and I am here with Matt Labrum, and it’s such an honor, Matt, first off, to chat with you. Thank you so much for giving your time, because I know you’re a very, very busy guy. So folks, just so you know, Matt Labrum is a football coach at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah. And he did something spectacular actually over there. Now, what’s interesting is sometimes you make these decisions. You don’t know the impact they’re going to have. Sometimes they seem very small decisions, and yet they make a huge impact that can go viral, and that’s what happened in Matt’s case.
Matt Labrum Talks About His Journey to Become a Coach
Charan: And it’s been really interesting to talk to him because, hey, you can follow your heart and do the things that you feel are right. And they can really make a positive impact on the community and the world. And sometimes they can also be divisive. So Matt, thanks so much first off for joining me on this podcast. I really appreciate it. But, I guess the listeners, will you talk us through your journey of how you became a football coach to begin with?
Matt: Yeah. First of all, thank you. I appreciate this opportunity. And I just want you to know this wasn’t just a one-man decision. It was a coaching staff decision. And so, I appreciate their support and the things that we were able to accomplish as a staff.
Matt: But my journey to become a coach, it took me a while to decide that’s what I wanted to do. I went off to school at Southern Utah University. I played football there, and went through that journey. The last thing that I was ever going to do was be a teacher. I wasn’t one of those great students in school. I was probably the one that causing most of the problems in class and things like that. But the further I got into my college education, I could see that I needed to have sports somewhere involved in my life as a profession.
Matt: And so, as I started looking at things, the best way I could find was to become a high school teacher and a coach, and still be involved in sports. Because the professional avenue just wasn’t going to happen for me. And so, that’s where it went. I was about my third year in college when I finally figured out, I think this is where I need to head and what my direction needs to be.
Charan: Now, did you play in college then?
Matt: I did. Yeah. I had the opportunity to play at Southern Utah University. So, was there for five years, played four years, red shirted my first year. Learned a lot. Have great coaches who mentored me, great teammates who also mentored me, and so sports has been a huge impact in my life all the way from little league, through high school, into college. And so, I finally saw the vision of what sports had done for me, and how my coaches had impacted me. And I figured out this is probably something that I need to do and be able to give back, because I was given so much through the opportunity to play sports.
Charan: That’s awesome. And you know, I never really participated in anything high school or college level sports, like team sports or anything like that. But, I’ve talked to a lot of friends that have, and, they have told me all like whether they continue to go on and play professionally, NBA or just NFL or anything like that, they have all said that some of those experiences were so great in helping build their own character. The lessons that they’ve learned along the way, had much more than just football, right? It was all about working together, discipline and perseverance. Any particular lessons stick out to you when you were younger that carried on throughout your life?
Matt: I don’t know that I have one particular, but, those things that you just talked about, character was reiterated in sports. Being honest, taking responsibility for good decisions or bad decisions that you made, and being able to own up to those things. And when you did make a mistake, having coaches that were compassionate and understanding, they held me accountable, but also allowed me an opportunity to get back into it or to grow that way. I was appreciative of my coaches, not just X’s and O’s, and teaching me how to play a game, but to teach me how to be a better person in life, and how sports could help you in life decisions and becoming a man, a husband, and a father, and those types of things.
Charan: Absolutely. Now you decided you wanted to become a coach, and I guess coach high school football. So, did you go straight from SUU you to becoming a coach at Union in Roosevelt?
Matt: Okay. Actually from SUU I went to a school called Parowan High School, it’s 30 miles to the north of Cedar city, Utah.
Charan: It’s like Canyon Panguitch, right? Is it Canyon there or?
Matt: A little bit, yes. It’s actually closer to Cedar.
Matt: It’s just 15, 20 miles to the north of Cedar, right off i-15, smaller 1A/2A school. My wife and I both got hired there at that time. And so, that’s a big deal to be able to do that. And I was actually hired as the head basketball coach.
Charan: Oh, wow okay.
Matt: And so, then I ended up helping with football and also assisting in baseball. But basketball was probably the sport I was least good at,
Matt: Rural high school, but that was not my first opportunity. So, at 22 years old, I’m the head basketball coach with very little experience.
Matt: And so, I’m grateful for Parowan for giving me that opportunity but also allowing me to grow. Because I needed a lot of growth during that time at 22 years old, I thought I knew everything, but I was [inaudible 00:07:44] I can look back on my things, I made a lot of mistakes, but I also had an idea of what I wanted to do and I was able to follow those things and Parowan allowed me to do that.
Charan: Yeah. That’s awesome. I always joke that in your twenties, you feel like you know everything. You’re like, all right, I finished high school or maybe I’m just getting throughout of college, I get it, I get the world. And then, in my thirties, I realized I was wise enough to learn that I knew nothing. There was just so much I did not know, and I’m like, oh my gosh, what was I thinking, right? And now I’m not quite 40 yet, but almost 40. And, I’m like, yep. I still feel the more aware I’ve become, the more aware how unaware I really have been. But it’s great. Because it helps you learn, it helps you to keep young, right? Instead of feeling like you’ve got it all figured out.
Charan: But, I’m interested to know when you were 22, you became a basketball coach. I’m sure you knew something about basketball of course, but not much as you knew about football, how was that experience going in and trying to empower these high school students in basketball, I guess you didn’t play basketball in high school or did you or not sure?
Matt: Yeah. So, I played basketball.
Charan: You did?
Matt: So, in high school I played football, played basketball, played baseball, but of those three, I was probably the least good at, I don’t know how to say it [crosstalk 00:09:20],
Charan: Yeah. Sure.
Matt: I think basketball. But I had great experiences there. I had great coaches during that time. And I think probably in high school, thinking back I had four different coaches. Each year I had a different head coach. So, I learned a lot of different things. I learned things that I didn’t like. I learned things that I did like about coaches. And so, I had those opportunities to grow. So then coming in, as I got hired at Parowan, I was able to mentor under Steve Hodson, who is a huge basketball… He just knows basketball. And he was the head coach at Cedar High School, which is in our school district there. And so, they said, look, you need to learn under him. And he gave me great directions.
Matt: Now, one thing that I did learn is I wasn’t Steve Hodson. I didn’t have the same mentality he did. I didn’t have the same demeanor, those types of things. And I tried to become Steve Hodson and I wasn’t.
Matt: But I took a lot of the things I learned from him, and was able to take that, and then add it into my personality and how I wanted to coach instead of trying to take and become somebody else. I learned how to take things from others and then use it to where my strengths were.
Charan: Well, I think that’s such a great life lesson on just being authentic to yourself, right? I work as an actor. And, for so long when I was first getting into it, I was like, I want to be like that guy. Or I want to have that guy’s career or something like that. And what’s been interesting is, as I’ve been creating my own path, I realized there’s a lot of great advice that people can give me, that has worked for them. And I can take certain things, can pick and choose what feels good to me, what doesn’t feel good to me, how I approach things. And, even in the world of acting, there’s so many different acting schools, and things like that. Different programs, and you just have to pick and choose, right? What feels good to you, what connects with you? And so, it’s cool you went through that process to realize, hey, I’m not Steve… Hodson, you said?
Charan: Hodson, Hodson.
Charan: Excuse me. So, you’re not Steve Hodson, but “I can still learn a lot from Steve Hodson, and I can continue to do what I want to do with my skillset as Matt Labrum,” right?
Matt: Yeah. I think that’s the key, and at that time people allowed me to make mistakes, and be able to learn from that. I think nowadays we’re not allowing people to make those same mistakes.
Matt: Be able to create those things that work. We’re in such a high pressure as coaches, parents and things. You only get a couple of years now, it seems like before they’re hounded, if you’re not figuring it out that soon. And so, going back, I’m thankful for people that could see maybe who I could become more than I could see it at that point, and allowed me to do that. And so, that was a huge thing in my life.
Matt Labrum Talks About Coaching at Union High School
Charan: That’s awesome. Now I love that. Now let’s fast-forward a little bit to coaching right now at Union. And, you said that I believe it was seven years ago, an incident happened, and interestingly enough, a decision that wasn’t made just solely by you, but—I don’t know if you spearheaded or it was made by a group of people—that decision went worldwide in a sense due to the internet, right? So, can we talk a little bit about what happened, the situation behind it, and what were the repercussions of it?
Matt: Yeah. Going back, it was my second year at the high school, at Union High School. So, we’d spent 17 years at Parowan High School, I mean, my wife and I, this is home for us, Roosevelt. We both graduated from this school. And so, there’ll be opportunity where they had jobs for both of us. And we decided it was time to come back. And so, we were excited to come and try to give back to the school that gave us opportunities. And so, we are thankful for that opportunity. Great first year, kids hungry, just eating out of our hands. It was fun, had tremendous staff that came along, and we were able to build some things. And even the second year, [inaudible 00:13:37] great kids ever, just things not headed in the right direction that we wanted. Just multiple little things.
Matt: I think everybody wanted to attribute it to one certain thing. Bullying was a big word at that time. And so, people that caught onto that, they talked about that. So, there was a little bit of that that was being associated to our team. There was sluffing classes, not getting to class, disrespect to teachers, just different things. And it was multiple things that were hitting. And we started talking as a staff and we’re like, wow, this isn’t where we want to head, this isn’t what we’re trying. We want to win football games. We want to do that. But what are we really teaching, and how can we be impactful? So, we were talking, and it took a few weeks, and then multiple things were happening.
Matt: Well then, there was an app, and I don’t even remember the name of the app that came out, but it’s one of those ones that’s anonymous and you can post and say things, whatever you want, but nobody knows who it is. And so, there was multiple things being said to a young man in our school. It was not nice, you know this, you know about, “kill yourself; do this; nobody likes you,” those types of things, and it was starting to look like it was maybe associated with some members on our team. And so, we had a guy that was in the counseling, one of our coaches was in the counseling department, and he was looking into some things and it just kind of looked that way. And so we said, look, we need to change something here. At this point we felt like the kids thought that it was owed to them to play football that-
Charan: [inaudible 00:15:19] situation, right?
Matt: And it’s not, it’s an opportunity. And so, we wanted to make sure that we understood that. And we also want to back our teachers and let them know, hey, we need to act differently. We need to make better decisions. And so, we sat down as a staff, and we decided look, this is where we need to go. And we knew it was a big decision, but so we involved our administration. We called them and said, hey, this is what we’re looking at doing, are you okay? And they backed us. And so, we decided ,it was after a game on Friday night, I think we played Judge, we ended up losing, played well, played really well, kids played hard. And so, it was hard, but we went back into my room. We met after the game, and we talked and took the whole team in there and we said, look, we’re suspending our football operations until things change.
Matt: It’s important that we change what’s going on. And we listed, there’s a paper out there, document that we put together and said, look, these are the things we’re looking at, this is what we need to change. And so, we took their jerseys that night. We had them take them off and they had the turn them in right there.
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Matt: That was pretty emotional.
Charan: I’m sure. Describe what the kids were going through. Were they just shocked, bombed?
Matt: They were, because they had no idea. They had no idea. There was tears, there was just unbelief and you could see a lot in the faces. It was emotional for us coaches. It was a tough thing. And we thought, as we went through, we thought we might get a little kickback from some parents in the community or whatever, but all of a sudden it went crazy. Somebody from our area got it out to the news a little bit. So, I had some of the local ones from Salt Lake were calling me, “Des News,” the “Tribune,” they were calling me about it. And then all of a sudden, I think I told you earlier, I wake up early Monday morning to go do film, and I looked on my phone and I have a voicemail from Anderson Cooper of CNN. And that just kept getting bigger from there, it was crazy.
Charan: It’s crazy to think. I doubt that you would’ve thought like in a million years, like this decision would suddenly have Anderson Cooper calling you and leaving you messages.
Matt: Yeah. We had him calling and then “People® Magazine,” and all different. It went crazy.
Charan: Was it pretty polarizing? Did people support you and also not support you or were more people in support of what you did?
Matt: Most of things I saw were in support,
Matt: And they were coming from all over. Our school, they pretty much took me out of the classroom that whole week. I couldn’t teach my classes because I was doing interviews or doing different things. And we had so much going on, and they had a phone dedicated to people that were calling in, leaving messages of support and different things that way.
Matt: We were getting letters from all over. We were hearing people from, all over. This is all over the world, Australia, Japan,
Matt: It was all over. And so, I think I told you this, I thought it lessened what we were trying to do. I thought we were able to learn some lessons, but I thought it padded what was going on, and it became more about me, and that’s the last thing I wanted to become. And so I’m a little leery about doing these things. Because, it isn’t about me. It’s about us trying to grow, and trying to learn and do that. It isn’t about Matt Labrum.
Charan: Well, and the interesting thing is, I’m sure it’s still a thing right now, but more than anything right now, but cyber bullying is just awful, and it’s got to stop. There’s just really no excuse for it. And it’s so great that you guys were able to see something, that was so detrimental and say, no, no. And we’re not going to allow people to feel they have a privilege or an entitlement to do something, and their actions aren’t being accounted for, right? I even look right now, during the situation with COVID, there’s been a lot of unrest, not just, we’re isolated from each other, six feet apart, for a long time, kids didn’t have to go to school. And I started realizing like, wow, the depression rates are up, and suicide rates are up.
Matt Labrum Talks About Responsibility
Charan: And, there’s a lot of things that are happening. And so, it’s interesting to me, and amazing to me that even seven years from the fact, you still get publicity for this type of thing. And it’s true. I really believe people are really searching inwards for ways to fix the current climate. So, let me ask you this, seeing how things have transpired the way they have in 2020, what are your own thoughts? What are your own thoughts taking responsibility and having joy and certainty when things seem so uncertain?
Matt: That’s a great question. This whole thing is been hard for me. And, I’m quote-unquote an adult and supposed to be able to handle it better. And so, I can only imagine as a teenager, I try to look back and try to have a teenage mind and understand that I was there once and can I, and then try to relate to what the kids are going through right now. And it’s tough, it’s very tough. I can see. So, I saw an influx in our football players. We had 85 close to 90 players come out this year when we’ve usually been in the last few years this been in the 50s to 60s. And so, you can see kids are searching for things, and they understand that physical activity and being able to get fitness and do those types of things will help you be able to overcome some of these other issues.
Matt: And so, being a part of something that’s more important than just yourself, I think is a big thing. Being able to grow in that avenue has been fun to watch. And it’s also given me a time to step back and say, look, am I requiring too much of these kids sometimes? Am I monopolizing too much of their time? Am I not giving them enough time with their family? Am I not spending enough time with my own family? And going through that COVID process has helped me realize, and I’ve missed a lot of time with my family because, I have monopolized my own time trying to do too much with the sports that I coach. And so, I’ve made adjustments as a coach in some of the things that we’re doing.
Matt: So, I’m learning those things, but, it’s still not easy. It’s hard to try to get up and understand that we could be shut down and go back to online school just real quickly. And so-
Charan: Yeah. I don’t know what the cases are like right now. I think they’re still escalating in some places. I’ve heard that some schools have re-shut down because of things. The whole world seems to be in commotion. I don’t know what the weather is over there, but, couple of days ago we were in the 90s, almost 100s. And now yesterday it was 40. And I’m like, wait, what? So, I call it another COVID miracle. And I just say, you know what, there’s a lot of uncertainty, I think the problem is when you have a secure foundation in something that you’re like, oh yeah, it’s routine, it’s consistent, this is what I do. And then that routine gets shut down. Suddenly your identity goes with it. Right?
Matt Labrum’s Advice in the Face of Uncertainty
Charan: And I think that’s the problem with having an identity or a purpose in something that could get shut down like that. So many people have lost their jobs. So, many people are relocating. I was in California and moved to Utah, and I just ran into a buddy of mine who has been in California for a while. And he even told me, he’s like, “Dude, I’m getting out of California. We’re going to try finding a home in Utah. It’s just crazy out there.” So, it’s very, very interesting. But what would you give as advice to the future generation that are going through what they’re going through right now? Whether it’s sports advice or just advice in life, what would you say to people that are facing this uncertainty? Because we all are, right?
Matt: Yeah. I think one big thing that’s helped me really think back to, am I a football coach or am I a man who coaches football?
Charan: Okay. I like that question.
Matt: And I needed to things that I felt like I was a football coach, and that’s what I was, and that’s my identity. As you talk about that’s where, and so, I think this COVID helped me look at, hey, are you just a football coach? Or you going to be a man, a husband, a father who’s coaching football. And so, in my own personal life that helped me. And it also helps you to realize, you got to find the positives. You got to focus on the positives that are happening, because there are positives out there.
Matt: We see and read about all the negatives, but there are a lot of positives that don’t get talked about as much. And so, we need to acknowledge those things. And that’s the biggest thing that I try to do, we go out to practice, I’m like, this could be our last practice. I don’t say that, but you got to think that this could be our last practice, who knows what’s going to happen. I also coach baseball. And so, last baseball season, we played six games and then it was done. And I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do. And so, now I don’t take those for granted anymore. And that was hard. As a personal experience, I’ve coached baseball for as long as I’ve coached football. So, 25 years I’ve been coaching, and I finally have my son who’s a senior, who’s a pretty good baseball player. And I look forward to that senior year with him, and then getting into the state tournament. Well, six games in, it’s done and it’s over, and I’ve taken [inaudible 00:26:00] for granted.
Matt: And so, I had to reevaluate myself and look, is sports the whole thing in our world, or can I be a father without sports and make some connections with my kids that aren’t just with sports. And so, that’s the biggest thing I try to talk to the kids now, I’m like, hey, you played football. You’re not just a football player. You play football. Now, how can you use football as an avenue to help you become a better student, a better person, a better son at home, those types of things. And so, we try to bring that up. And then as a teenager, you don’t really realize what’s going on, but they’re going to learn the lesson at some point. I got multiple lessons from my dad, and his advice.
Matt: I didn’t listen to him all the time, but I do now. I understand now what he was talking about. And so, I think that’s the biggest thing, is that, it’s okay to keep them. They might not learn that lesson right immediately when you want them to learn, but, they now take that information, and it’s going to come back to them at some point.
Charan: I honestly think that it’s so beautiful. And especially what you were saying about looking for the positive in the situation, and identifying, “Hey, I am a man that coaches football, instead I’m a football coach, right?” Taking yourself out of the identity that you’ve created for yourself, I think is huge. Before I used to say, oh, I’m an actor. That’s what I do. I’m an actor. That’s all I focus on. And I’m like, no, I’m Charan. I’ve got different things I like to do, one of those things being acting. And it’s been really, really good to do that. And my mom and I were having a chat the other day, and we were talking about another friend of mine who keeps a gratitude journal. And just constantly writes things that she’s grateful for, right? And I think that’s such a beautiful thing because, whatever you focus on, that’s where your energy goes, right.
Charan: And if you’re going to let the media dictate what the narrative should be, then you’re going to have a pretty depressed life. Because almost all of the media is just negative this thing, do that, this has happened, this happened, that controversy, this controversy. And you’re just filled with conflict. And at some point you’re just like, I think I just want to take a break. I want to just take a break from all of that stuff, because it does nothing good for my soul. But if you can think of things that are positive, and just that you and I connecting or reaching out and you’re spending time with your family or encouraging the kids to, I don’t know, spend time with their own families. I think that’s great advice.
Matt Labrum Talks About His Future
Charan: So, I know this is a very difficult question because our future is very uncertain, but where do you see yourself in the future? What’s the path for you?
Matt: Well, I hope that wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, that I will be a positive influence. That doesn’t mean that everything that I do is right. I make mistakes, but try to be able to impact others in a positive way, whether it be through action, through word, finding those positive things. I think that’s probably the greatest joy I get out of teaching and coaching, is to be able to have interactions, personal interactions with people. And that’s been the hardest thing with this COVID is not, that there’s no, the personal interaction, the six-foot rule and everything else is taken away, and even with your family. So right now I have a daughter who is in labor. I think we’re going to be having a baby here the next day or so, but we’re not really allowed to be there.
Matt: You have older people that are sick, and you can’t go in and see them, and you can’t do that. And we know that love and people interaction is healing, it’s healing for people. And so, that’s probably the hardest thing is, how can we still have a personal impact in a world that’s pushing us away from those personal impact situations. That’s the biggest thing. So, I talked to you a little bit. I’m 25 years into my career, starting my 26th year. Teachers, it’s good to retire at 30, using the magical number or whatever. I got to decide here in the next five years, am I going to stay in that? Or am I going to find a different route in a different direction that will keep me enthused, and also that I’ll be able to do the things that I need to do while I’m here as a father, as a person, as the coach, and be able to impact people, I think is the biggest thing.
Charan: Have you kept in touch with any of the students that were suspended from that year?
Matt: Yeah. Multiple. I’m pretty close with some. Still, I have contact, there’s one that’s playing college football right now. He was actually my next door neighbor, lived across the street from me. One of our better football players and obviously because he’s now playing college football. I keep contact with a lot of them.
Charan: Did they ever share with you some of their experience after being suspended, how did that impact go for a lot of them?
Matt: I haven’t had personal where they just direct it back to that. I have had, some will write me, have different ones that are in college or they’ve gone on missions for the LDS Church.
Matt: And so, they’ll write me a letter and say, “You know what, Coach? I appreciate the way that you taught us to get through hard things and be able to learn how to get through hard things and that we can,” and talking about that. I also had one, this was an interesting one, I had one, a kid that I coached in Parowan, that was on his mission in Canada, when this event went on in 2013, and he was at some people’s houses and they turned the TV on. They said, “Hey, look, we want you to watch this and see this.”
Matt: And so, he could hear it and things, and he says, “You know what? That sounds like the coach I had at Parowan.”
Matt: And then all of a sudden he looked and he was like, “Holy cow, that is the coach I had at Parowan.” That was what happened. And so, that made me feel that, through my years as coach, a kid has seen that and thought, this is what I stand for, this is what I do. Now, does that make me perfect? By no means, but this is the expectation that we want to try to live at. And this is what we’re going to do.
Charan: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I was telling you a little earlier, I’m almost 40, and I still keep in touch with my sixth grade teacher. Because he was such a great impact in my life. I remember going to class every day, just so full of joy and excitement. Because I just loved going to his class. He just made me feel good and he was so fun, and made learning fun. And it was interesting because that year in my class, there were a couple of boys that bullied me a little bit. And that was tough. I remember that was a little tough for me. That was it. I was always this small kid in school. But despite that I loved his class. I loved him as a person. And we kept in touch, and I knew when his birthday was, and every year on his birthday I’d call and wish him happy birthday.
Charan: And that tradition continues today. And I keep thinking like, wow, what an impact he made on my life, just because he made learning fun, and that’s what I needed for myself, right? So, I am so appreciative of the time that you’ve given me today. And I know that like your students have definitely felt that same impact in their lives. And so, especially as we’re going through these challenging times right now, I’m hoping that some of the analogies that you taught as a coach in football, can even apply to facing uncertainty like this, which is a totally different type of challenge, right?
Matt: Yeah. I just speak from, your tea- I don’t know your teacher, that you… But I have kids that do that same thing to me, and what joy that brings to me to hear from them, that’s the one positive that I do find out of Facebook, in Instagram and Twitter. I can follow some of my past and it brings up your birthdays. And so, you’re able to make contact at least with these kids and those that have impacted you in doing that. So, it’s a special thing, and it’s awesome when you can reach somebody like that. My coaches and teachers that reached me, and enable, now to go on and hopefully continue that and pass that on, and make a positive impact with which is what you’re doing with this [crosstalk 00:35:24].
Charan: Well, I appreciate that. My teacher, his name is Mr. Rowley. And the last time we were messaging, we were talking about what I was up to, and he knew I got into acting, and I had done some projects for the LDS Church. And it was interesting because he’s like, oh my gosh, I saw that video. I didn’t realize it was you, and I’m like, yeah. And it was weird thing of like, wow, he was my teacher in sixth grade, and then I became this actor, and he saw this video and you really liked the video. It just did make that connection, right? So, it’s funny how things go. So, I appreciate you taking the time to coach all these kids for all these years, the impact that you’ve made is incredible. Especially, that one incident, and of course it’s like what a lot of people remember, but 25 years, right?
Charan: So many memories, and so many things that you’ve been able to do. So, yeah. I appreciate the effort that you’ve done and I know that those students will remember you.
Matt: I appreciate that. And like I said, it’s been a privilege, I enjoy going. It’s still something that I love to do. I love the aspect of coaching and watching kids develop over. Usually I get them for four years and watching them develop over four years, not just on the athletic field, but also as students and where they’re going to head, and the directions they’re going to go. And most of all, I’m thankful for administrators that have allowed me to do it, backed me, and then also parents, it’s a big thing. It’s a two-way thing. If a coach and a parent can get on the same page, they can raise a young person.
Matt: Battling against each other, then it’s hard to do that. So, it’s a big two-way street, in that those blessings come if we all get on the same page.
Charan: Oh, well that’s awesome. I’m glad that it’s been such a cohesive thing, parents and coaches and administration all in it together to help the future. Because, I think that’s what we need. It takes a community, like, a village to raise a child, right? And so, it really does take a community. And as we’re facing more and more uncertain times, we need the future generation that are going to face those challenges to be as strong as they possibly can right now. So, thank you. Thank you, Coach, for all that you’ve done, and are continuing to do, and, despite these craziness, these crazy times, thanks for continuing to hang in there and put up the good fight. So-
Matt: Well, thanks, Charan. I appreciate it. It’s been my privilege to be here and learn from you. I appreciate this opportunity. I just met you, as we said, and you’ve had an impact on me, I appreciate the words that you’ve shared, and I enjoy the opportunity to keep growing and learning. So-
Charan: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Coach Labrum. Thanks for being on Lemonade Stand podcast and have a fantastic day, okay?
Matt: Thank you. I will. You too.
Charan: Take care. Bye.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to Lemonade Stand podcast and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback and the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome Lemonade Stand Story, please reach out to us on social media, and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.