True-Wrestling recently caught up with Drexel head wrestling coach Matt Azevedo. We covered a wide range of topics; his own wrestling, coaching role models, this year’s team and his long-term goals. Drexel is a young team with lots of talent. I see them steadily moving up in the rankings over the next few years.
True Wrestling: How old were you when you started wrestling?
Matt Azevedo: Seventh Grade
TW: How old were you when you took it seriously? Knowing that you wanted to wrestle in college.
MA:Sophomore year in high school
TW: What’s something important that you learned about yourself while wrestling in college?
MA: I learned I can control a lot of my success through consistent training, “hard work”. I also learned that being aggressive and having good condition can take you a long way.
TW: What did you learn from your time at Cornell?
MA: I learned how to run a well-rounded “Program”. Specifically taking a CEO approach. There is a lot more to coaching than just showing moves on the mat.
TW: Is there anything that surprised you in a good way about living in Pennsylvania?
MA: The weather is not as bad as I thought it would be.
TW: You’ve had some good recruits in the last 2 years. Can you offer some thoughts on that?
MA: We are working very hard to bring in the most talented student-athletes we can. The key being “student-athletes”. Academics are very important to us and our athletic department. We are looking for kids that want to excel in wrestling and want a challenging education that will propel them to a lucrative career.
TW: What kind of wrestlers are you looking for?
MA: I guess I answered that in my last response. But we look for athletes that are aggressive on their feet and tough on top. We look for kids that seek out the best competition and are willing to train year round.
TW: What can you tell me about your coaching staff?
MA: My coaching staff has a great work ethic. Zack Sheaffer and Jimmy Sheptock love wrestling and bring a wealth of knowledge to our athletes. They are the backbone of our program.
TW: What are your goals for this years team?
MA: Our goals are to finish top three in the EIWA as a team and get our first All American since 2007.
TW: What would you like your legacy at Drexel to be?
MA: I want Drexel Wrestling to be a nationally relevant program year in and year out. A place where student-athletes can get a high level education and achieve the highest success on the wrestling mat. I want our young men to look back at their time at Drexel with pride and accomplishment.
TW: What is your coaching philosophy? What sets it apart?
MA: This is not an easy question to answer in a short response, but my coaching philosophy starts with creating a positive atmosphere. We work to build our athletes up through hard work and discipline and try to incorporate fun as much as possible. We put a big focus on technique, by doing a lot of drilling in all phases of training.
TW: What’s you biggest asset as a coach? Why do you think recruits pick you over their other potential choices?
MA: We take a personal approach to our athletes. Our kids get a lot of individualized work and attention. Not only do we help them become the best athletes they can be, but we provide an environment that allows them to be career driven and develop the skills need to get jobs in the most competitive markets.
TW: What’s your best moment since taking over at Drexel?
MA: Probably last year at Spirit Night, when we packed out the DAC and beat Rider for the first time in nine years. The Drexel student body really gave us the extra lift to win that dual meet.
TW: What’s the biggest obstacle in the way of being nationally relevant?
MA: I don’t know if there is a big obstacle. We need to have national success.
TW: Do you have a coaching role model(s)?
MA: My Uncle John Azevedo has always had a huge influence on me. He has one of the best wrestling minds in the country. I also learned a lot from Rob Koll while at Cornell. He is a big reason why I am a head coach today. Others that have had an influence on me as an athlete and coach are Zeke Jones, Sammie Henson and Bobby Douglas.
TW: What’s the financial and endowment situation like for the wrestling team at Drexel?
MA: For all intents and purposes our program is fully funded. We have athletic and academic scholarship along with financial aid.
TW: Thoughts about this years line up that you can share?
MA: I think this will be our most talented team yet. We are still very young, (only one senior and two juniors) but this group is getting better every week. Our future looks very bright.
Thanks coach, we’ll check in with you soon.