Chewin’ the Fat: Q & A with Matt Evancho

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Credit: Josh Popichak

Saucon Valley Head Football Coach Matt Evancho speaks at a high school pep rally in mid-December.

Matt Evancho led the Panthers on a memorable journey becoming the winningest coach in Saucon Valley history.

Matt Evancho will be missed as leader of the Saucon Valley Panthers

Football coach Matt Evancho has led the Panthers on a memorable journey. In addition to being a record-setter as the winningest coach in Saucon Valley history, he led the Panthers to a pair of Eastern Conference championships (2007 and 2013) and a pair of Colonial League championships (2014 and 2015). In addition, the 2015 Panthers won the District XI title and advanced to the semifinals of the PIAA state championships.

With all this success, most would assume Matt would be on cruise control, looking forward to the next football challenge. However, just a few days before Christmas he abruptly resigned his coaching position. Check out what Matt had to say about that decision and other subjects in our recent Q&A with him:

Q: Why exactly did you resign?

A: I love coaching and working with the kids, but I felt it was time for me to take a break. With (my daughter) Kayla (a freshman at Easton) potentially cheering on Friday nights next year, there was no way I could miss being there. I also told the kids that I have been suffering from depression for a long period of time and I had finally came to terms with it and it was time to get help.

Coach Evancho gets a hug from daughter Kayla while giving an interview following the PIAA Quarterfinal win over Selinsgrove

Coach Evancho gets a hug from daughter Kayla while giving an interview following the Panthers’ quarterfinal win over Selinsgrove

Q: Being a former Easton player, Easton grad and current Easton resident, if Easton Area High School football came calling looking for a head coach would you answer the phone? Would you entertain the idea? Any chance they could sway you?

A: I will not deny anyone the time to speak, however, if I am not able to have the time needed for my family, then it is not something I would even consider.

Q: Can you describe the personal hurdles that need to be cleared before you get back into coaching?

A: When I do return to coaching, it will have to be an opportunity that does not interfere with my children’s activities. I will also have to be in a better place with my depression before I ever consider returning to high school coaching.

Q: Prior to your resignation announcement, how long had you been thinking about resigning? Do you recall when exactly you knew you would be resigning? Was there some sort of “trigger” to the revelation?

A: Looking back, this past summer was a struggle for me mentally. That was the first time I was able to be honest with myself. Towards the end of this season, I realized I had to step down because I was not allowing myself the chance to celebrate our accomplishments. I was not doing what I told the players and coaches to do.

Coach Evancho in the midst of a pregame ritual

Coach Evancho in the midst of a pregame ritual. He was known for his habit of wearing shorts at all the games.

Q: Were you at all worried about any negative reaction to your announcement? From the players? Parents? Community?

A: My biggest concerns were with the players. I care about them like sons and still do. I didn’t want them to look at me as deserting them. Unfortunately, these other matters had to be addressed.

Q: Can you tell me what played into the timing of the announcement?

A: I felt the players and coaches had to know immediately. There was no reason to drag it out. They deserved the opportunity to be able to move on.

Q: What do you think you will miss most about coaching football at Saucon Valley?

A: The relationships. I am going to miss being with the players in the weight room and on the practice field developing relationships with the players.

Q: What are you looking forward to most now that you are no longer coaching?

A: The time with my family. Improving on my relationships with my own kids. I’ve missed some time with them and I want to make up for that.

Saucon Valley head football head coach Matt Evancho reminds his players about good sportsmanship during a game in September 2015 (FILE PHOTO).

Credit: Keith Riefenstahl

Saucon Valley head football head coach Matt Evancho reminds his players about good sportsmanship during a game in September 2015 (FILE PHOTO).

Q: Your son Kyle is 12 years old and in sixth grade. Have you ruled out assisting his football team next year?

A: I have not. However, I have tried to be as hands off as I can be when it comes to him and playing football. I think he looks for more, but I try to let him learn on his own and work with his coaches.

Q: Looking back on your experience as the head football coach at Saucon Valley, can you share a fond memory or two that you will always likely treasure? What are a couple highlights of your SV coaching career?

A: My best memories are the relationships with the players. I have loved them all. Some did not realize it at the time and for some earlier on at Saucon, I made mistakes. All of the players have helped me become a better coach and a better person. I feel my relationship with (senior) Braden Hudak has helped me grow the most.

I think the biggest highlights would be how much community support the team received this year. It was magical and just like you would see in a movie. The players and coaches will never forget that.

Saucon District XI Champions- seniors Christian Carvis and Braden Hudak

Saucon District XI Champions: Seniors Christian Carvis and Braden Hudak

The Saucon community givng a heroic send-off to their beloved Panthers before the PIAA semifinal

The Saucon community givng a heroic send-off to their beloved Panthers before the PIAA semifinal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What was it like parting from your players and staff?

A: I think the players and coaches were shocked. I did not talk to many of them about it since the announcement. I felt it was important to give everyone time to take it in. There is no doubt that every one of them understands and they are very supportive of what I need to do.

Q: What is your parting message to the Saucon Valley community?

A: Saucon will be and should always be a strong community with their “homegrown talent.” Be proud and continue to support.

Q: Have you recommended someone to the Saucon Valley administration to replace you? If so, who? Would you consider being part of the interview panel?

A: I have not. There are some on staff who are very capable. I will not be on the interview panel, whether asked or not asked. The administration has been on board with the program’s philosophy and I have complete confidence they will do what is in the best interest of the players.

Q: If asked, what advice would you give to the next head coach of SV football?

A: Embrace the tight-knit and proud community and use that to your advantage. Build meaningful relationships with the players. The students of Saucon Valley are fantastic individuals. Lastly, enjoy all the successes.

Matt Evancho addresses his team after winning the 2015 PIAA Quarterfinals

Matt Evancho addresses his team after winning the 2015 PIAA Quarterfinals

Best New Year wishes to Coach Evancho and his entire family. Matt is leaving Saucon Valley football, but I think it’s safe to presume the entire Saucon Valley community is not leaving Coach Evancho.

Saucon Source and the entire Saucon Valley community will always be with you!

Saucon Valley Head Football Coach Matt Evancho speaks at a high school pep rally in mid-December.

Credit: Josh Popichak

Saucon Valley Head Football Coach Matt Evancho speaks at a high school pep rally in mid-December.

Matt Evancho will always have a friend in the Saucon Valley Panther, seen here clowning with him at the high school in November.

Credit: Josh Popichak

Matt Evancho will always have a friend in the Saucon Valley Panther, seen here clowning with him at the high school in November.

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