Matt Alford came to LCU for one big reason—to play basketball. Now, he takes his passion for sports and kids everyday into his classroom at Evans Middle School.
“It was my last chance to play basketball,” he explained, reminiscing about his choice to make the trip to Lubbock. “Coach Duncan invited me to come if I wanted, so I showed up at the doorstep, worked my way up from the bottom, and ended up with a full scholarship playing basketball at LCU.
Upon his arrival on campus, the El Paso native says he initially kept to himself, but the close-knit culture quickly drew him in.
“Once I started getting involved in the LCU community, I started really enjoying it,” he said. “My life was blessed more as I reached out to people and talked to them. I’d meet new people in chapel, branching out from where the basketball players usually sat. I started helping out with Blur, going to Wednesday Night Devo, and showing up to school events like TWIRP Week and intramurals.”
That community didn’t only exist among his peers, either—Matt was also impacted by the way that his professors and even school leadership were personally invested in him.
“The professors take time to get to know you. They want to know what is going on; they want to be there to help you,” he recalled. “I loved looking up in the stands at our games and seeing my professors and even President Perrin cheering us on.”
Matt’s passion for teaching has always been a part of his life, and that his time at LCU really reinforced and nurtured that passion.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Teachers and coaches have always been there for me, keeping me out of trouble. I want to be that for someone else.”
“Dr. Josh Wheeler told us that everything we do in a classroom is about relationships,” he continued, recalling his time learning from one of his professors of education. “Kids want to know they’re cared about. So the first thing I did when I started at Evans was to try to build relationships with the kids—finding something in common with them or supporting them at extra-curricular events.”
Matt said that those relationships are a big part of what is helping him be successful as a teacher.
“I even enjoy getting up in the morning, going to basketball practice, then being in the classroom. I want to break the stereotype of coaches that just put a movie on in class,” he explained. “The kids will care about it if I care about it.
One of the biggest lessons that Matt learned during his time at LCU didn’t come from his time in the classroom, but instead through just doing life.
“You can’t do it alone,” he said. “You’ve got to have people to support you and have your back—family, friends, a loved one, a coach, a professor. ‘Iron sharpens iron’ rings true. And that’s one thing I’ve always loved about LCU.”