Paul Triukas // Sports editor
Coach Foster is a role model for all of his players. From implementing new tutoring schedules, to making sure the players are properly fed, Foster is a perfect example of someone who is trying to make a difference in life. This week’s cover story goes behind the headset and into the life of coach Matt Foster.
The team ended their 2012 campaign ranked eighth in the country after a 42-29 victory against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College at the Citizen‘s Bank Bowl. Now the team is gearing up with new and returning players and a new head coach for another promising season.
Matt Foster, new head football coach, is one of the most anticipated coaches to join the college in recent years. He began his 30-year coaching career at Salisbury State University in Maryland and helped the team to the quarterfinals of the National Championship. Since the college is a Division III school, the Chaparrals are in a good position because Foster also has Division I coaching experience. He was a member of the Central Connecticut State University team who played in the first division. Foster has also coached North Central College and Wheaton North High School.
For a while in the 1990s, Foster was an assistant coach for the college. Former NFL defensive end, Paul Spicer, was part of the squad at the time. When asked why he chose to return to College of DuPage, Foster said, “this place means so much to me.” According to Foster, he saw the college football field as a “field of dreams.” He said, “it gives so many opportunities and so many great things. This little piece of it does unbelievable things for kids, as far as changing their lives.”
As far as being one of the most anticipated coaches, Foster also has a good resume. He went to the National Championship three times, finishing second every time. His teams were third and fourth once each. He has also led his teams to the semifinals in high school and to bowl games in college.
After playing football in high school and college, Foster took the path to coaching. Although a good season at the college might open the door for larger Division I opportunities, Foster said he has not thought about coaching at the highest level. He says that he loves the kids and the challenge. He loves the relationship with the guys and what he can do to their careers.
Similarly, to other great college coaches, like the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, Foster is making the team more family orientated. His children come to see practices and games while his wife might bring some homemade goodies for the players after practice.
Part of a college coach’s job is recruiting players. Due to being named the head coach in June, Foster was unable to select any players for the team. What he wanted from players was great character. According to the coach, he wanted to find good people from good programs. Foster said that the team needs to be like a family, the whole unit is more important than one player.
Coaching for over three decades, Foster has created his own philosophy and is ready to demonstrate that as a Chaparral. There is a reason for the coach to admit that the defense is currently slightly better than the offense. A former defensive-type player – fullback, strong safety and linebacker – Foster admits that he is a “defense wins championships” coach.
When asked who the best players are, Foster gave a touching answer, “I let you guys single kids out, I don‘t because it‘s a philosophical thing. As a coach, I don‘t like to single kids out. To me, the kid who is running, busting his tail out here every day, who doesn‘t get to play much in the game is just as valuable as the kid that‘s responsible for throwing the touchdowns. They just have different jobs. And I don‘t like to single out the kid who throws the touchdowns and say he is more important than the kid that‘s playing against them all week to get them ready for the game.”
The first game of 2013 was a loss to Arkansas Baptist College. Luckily, the 34-23 loss didn’t hurt the players confidence. Last Saturday, they rebounded and defeated North Dakota College of Science 47-7.
Coach Foster knows how to get his players ready for games: “I like to challenge them. That‘s what life is. You‘re going to get adversity and you‘re going to get knocked down on the field. Whether you‘re a student or a professor, whether you‘re a worker or a businessman, you‘re going to have those days and you have to challenge people to get back up and find it within them to rise above whatever the obstacle is. I think that is one of the greatest lessons in all sports. It prepares you for what you have to do professionally in your real life.”
Foster said representing the college as a football team means rising to the same standards that the college already holds, “I also think that this is an elite institution. All you have to do is walk around here. Their expectations are like any other area here and every other area here is elite. Right there, that area is elite, the tech department is elite, the homeland security, the radio station. All aspects are as good as they are. We want to be the same, we want to be an elite football program and no different from any other program here at the school. That‘s how I see it. The fact that we‘re the only junior college in the state now is very important but I think it‘s more of a philiosophical thing; it‘s a mission. We want to represent the school just like any other programs here do, but in an elite fashion.”