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Wednesday February 8th

How UNC field hockey's Erin Matson is inspiring the next generation via Twitter

<p>Sophomore forward Erin Matson (1) dribbles the ball towards the goal during the NCAA Championship Game against Princeton University at Kentner Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. UNC won 6-1, marking their 8th national championship.</p>
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Sophomore forward Erin Matson (1) dribbles the ball towards the goal during the NCAA Championship Game against Princeton University at Kentner Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. UNC won 6-1, marking their 8th national championship.

The Twitter bio of UNC’s Erin Matson, the best player on the best field hockey team in the country, tells you that the sophomore is a two-time national champion. It could include a lot more — about how she won National Player of the Year in 2019, or how the Tar Heels haven’t lost a game since she stepped on campus. 

Instead, it ends with a quote from the late Kobe Bryant:

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

It’s in that spirit that Matson has, for the last few weeks, tweeted out training videos from her home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, covering field hockey basics like receiving, pulls and eliminations. While they were ostensibly intended for the U10 Carolina All Stars, a team that Matson helps coach in the winter and spring, the clips have since taken on a life of their own.

“Since we’ve been stuck at home, I’ve gotten a lot of little girls asking for really simple drills that they can do in their basement, garage, outside, wherever,” Matson said in a March 28 video with more than 15,000 views. “And since I miss coaching the little ones down at UNC, I figured this is the best we can do for the time being.”

Matson said that her quarantine has been “like I reverted back to two years ago," working out in her home gym just like she did before college. Those workouts (and the training videos) take place in what her family calls the “blue room,” an unfinished storage closet converted into an ideal field hockey workout space.

“The paint’s blue, so the floor’s blue,” Matson said, adding, “It’s perfect. It’s my favorite room in the house.”

Once a video is shot by her younger brother Sean, Erin throws it in Adobe Premiere Pro and — using skills learned from her MEJO 121 class, “Introduction to Digital Storytelling” — adds background music and her own narration. 

The videos are curated for beginners, but Matson stresses that they include drills she still does to this day. One clip juxtaposes a nine-year-old Matson performing a touch routine with blinding speed with an older Matson doing the same drill before an Olympic qualifier last year.

“I’m such an advocate for mastering the basics,” she said. “Doing the fundamentals over and over and over, and not getting bored of it.”

That mastery is why Matson led the nation in points and goals per game last season, and why she was named a first-team All American for the second year straight. The four videos on Matson’s page have garnered more than 33,000 views and speak volumes: not only to her knowledge of the game, but to her desire to help those who come next.

“I think it’s super important to spread all the experiences and knowledge that I’ve gained over my years to the younger kids and future generation of field hockey,” she said. 

“I think that once I’m done playing, once my wave of talented players is done playing, the next wave should be even better. And I want them to beat all the records that we set, just because if they can learn from what we did and how we had success and make it that much better, the future of USA field hockey is gonna improve.”

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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