Throughout the season, Silverbacks players and coaches will send personal updates to the fans via atlantasilverbacks.com. Here, forward Matt Horth discusses a long offseason filled with physical therapy, coaching, and training – as well as a mission trip during which he became a “personal jungle gym” for orphans in Tijuana.
The offseason is way too long. I’m in the same boat as many of you, chomping at the bit for the season to start already! It has been exciting to see the club adding some quality players to the squad, and I can’t wait to meet the guys. Having experienced guys like Rilla, Martyn Lancaster, Reinaldo Navia, and Stephen Ademolu in the team is going to be really key to our success this year, and it’s a great opportunity for young players like me to learn from these guys and add things to my game.
Despite it being too long, my offseason has been filled with activity. After the 2011 season ended, I accepted an assistant coaching position at my alma mater, Gordon College, and was up in Boston within a fortnight of our last game. That decision was two-fold: I really wanted to continue investing my time and energy into a college program to which I had already given so much, and during the final weeks of the NASL season, I had picked up an injury that needed attention, and Gordon has some of the finest physical therapists and athletic trainers who could help me. My first college coaching experience was a great one. We finished second in the conference and narrowly missed out on a chance at the national tournament. By the end of the season, the team had grown a lot and raised the standard of what it means to be a Gordon player. My therapy went well, too, and I was finally 100 percent by mid-December.
In early January, I went on a mission trip to Mexico with a group of friends from Gordon. We spent January 6-17 living at La Casa de la Esperanza, an orphanage in Tijuana. La Casa is home to around 40 orphan kids, most between the ages of 7 and 14. It was a great trip for us because we were able to live alongside the kids and really show them that there is someone out there who loves them and cares about their lives. Most of them have gone through a lot of tough times and have grown up without parents to support or provide for them. At La Casa, they are able to be cared for and have a somewhat stable life.
While we were at La Casa, our group did various construction projects for the orphanage, including laying down cement, building a stone wall for the entry drive, and cleaning out and organizing seven closets that had turned into chaos. When we weren’t working, we spent our free playing with the kids. And since I’m probably one of the tallest Americans they have ever seen, I quickly became the personal jungle gym to every young kid there. It was a great trip, but more importantly, it was a humbling reminder of how blessed I am to have a supportive family, a good education, clean clothes, and other things we consider basic necessities.
Since my recovery in December, I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the upcoming season. I’m currently training with one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in Akron (my hometown), and I’ve been playing as much as I can, so I’m in top form when I get to Atlanta in a few weeks. Where we end up at the end of the season is a direct result of how much work we put in now, so it’s all about putting in the time and effort.
See you all soon.