Matt Marshall – a versatile coach, teacher shaping Lowndes Academy student athletes

Published 11:32 am Sunday, July 16, 2023

Lowndes Academy athletic director Matt Marshall fills many roles – varsity football defensive coordinator, head softball coach, head girl’s basketball coach, assistant junior varsity (JV) football coach, standing on the sidelines for pee wee football, and the list goes on. The 1994 Lowndes graduate began his coaching career as a volunteer there as a volunteer in college, and has been working toward the school’s success both on and off the field ever since.

“I started helping as a volunteer in 1997 while I was still going to [college],” Marshall said. “I became a full time employee teaching and coaching in fall 2002, doing a little of everything.”

Marshall credits former Lowndes coach James “Speed” Sampley, who teaches now at Fort Dale Academy, with bringing him home to coach at Lowndes.

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“Speed Sampley called me in 1997 and asked if I wanted to be the peewee football coach,” Marshall recalled. “I was 21 years old. I told him I would rather help him with varsity, so he let me help that year. We won the [Alabama Independent School Association] championship that year. And I’ve been here ever since.”

Marshall earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy University at Montgomery. In his last year of college, he realized his desire to teach, moved back home to Lowndes County, and accepted his first position at Lowndes Academy, as a high school physical education teacher and assistant varsity football coach.

“I started volunteer coaching and realized I could teach and coach and get paid for it,” Marshall said. “I thought, ‘I can make a career out of this because I love doing it.’ I was coaching summer league Dixie ball and enjoyed it. I finally went to my mother and said, ‘This is what I want to do. I think I am good at it and I don’t feel like it’s a job.’ I’ll be honest, I think I have felt that way the whole time and I still do.”

The teacher and coach said he looks forward to going to work each day, with the goal of reaching at least one student and helping them gain the confidence needed for success.

“I know if I reach one kid, it’s worth it,” Marshall said. “The satisfaction of reaching one child and getting them to believe in themselves and seeing them do something they didn’t think they could do, that’s what means the most to me.”

In Marshall’s role as athletic director,  headmaster Barry Mohun said he brings coaching staff and volunteers together to enhance the school’s athletic programs.

“He does a good job of making sure all the coaches know what the rules are, for the school and the athletic department,” Mohun said. “We are a small school and we rely on some volunteer coaches also. So, he does a good job bringing everybody together and making sure everyone knows exactly what’s going on.”

Lowndes head football coach Shane Moye described Marshall as a good friend and coach.

“We’ve become really good friends and our kids are actually in the same class,” Moye said. “Matt’s just a good person and a good coach. We have the same philosophy and we work really well together.”

Moye noted that as the school’s athletic director, Marshall supports coaches, displaying a high level of trust in coaches, staff, and volunteers.

“He let’s all the coaches do their job, letting us know what he expects us to do and we do it,” Moye said. “I think that’s good, the trust we all have in each other. That’s the most important thing – trusting and having each other’s back.”

And Marshall works toward the overall success of Lowndes Academy, not only in the athletic department, but in academics as well. Recently, the coach helped to form an academic counsel, meeting with teachers to float ideas for improvements to enhance the school’s operation.

“We formed an academic counsel, a mixture of two or three elementary teachers and two or three high school teachers,” Marshall said. “We meet when we can to talk about making things better and what we can do to improve the school. We’ve been tackling our handbook for the last two weeks just trying to make sure we are covering what we need to cover.”

According to Mohun, Marshall fills many roles – from coach and coordinator to athletic director.

“I think Coach Matt is the epitome of versatility,” Mohun said. “He has his hands in a lot of different things. He’s defensive coordinator in football, he’s the head girl’s basketball coach, and he is also the head softball coach. He does a lot and add to that, he is the athletic director. I think [him] being involved in a lot of different areas, and also being good at them, plays a big part in our success.”