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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Swedes tip Matsakis to head football program

  • Interim Bethany College Athletic Director Scott McClure knew the press conference announcing the hiring of former Kansas State University assistant coach Manny Matsakis would accomplish three things.
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  • Interim Bethany College Athletic Director Scott McClure knew the press conference announcing the hiring of former Kansas State University assistant coach Manny Matsakis would accomplish three things.
    "We knew Coach Matsakis would educate, would entertain, and would get everyone excited about Swede football," McClure said before a large crowd in Lindquist Hall Monday afternoon. "From now and into the future."
    Matsakis, a former assitant coach for Kansas State University's legendary Bill Snyder, did appear energized about the future of Bethany College as a whole during his introductory press conference.
    "I am pumped up," Matsakis said. "I am so ready for this opportunity. And really is a tremendous opportunity to be here in Lindsborg. When I got on campus, it just felt perfect."
    Matsakis has tipped 2006 Bethany College graduate Steve Tapley to be his offensive line coach/special teams coordinator. Also joining the staff will be defensive coordinator Jarrod Wirt and defensive line coach Michael Starkey.
    Matsakis and his assistant coaches have already gotten to work, both with the current team and on the recruiting trail.
    "We've got something special (at Bethany)," Matsakis said. "We're looking for guys that fit in with our culture."
    The future and growing Bethany College as a whole is what Matsakis is aiming for in taking over the Swede football program, which went 4-7 in 2012 under former head coach Jamie Cruce. To improve the Swedes, Matsakis is taking a page from Snyder and his Wildcats.
    "I want our players to understand that you just improve everyday," Matsakis said. "Take where you are, and get a little better. And that's just not what we're doing in the weight room, or on the field. It's going to be in the classroom, it's going to be out in town, it's spiritually. It's all these things we're about here."
    Matsakis stressed that, while the eventual goal is to take the Swede football program to another level, it won't happen in one season.
    "It's going to happen incrementally," he said. "We have a plan, and it's detailed, on exactly how we're going to do that.
    "We've got this vision of where we want to be; the best we can possibly be here at Bethany. Our job, as coaches, as professors, as community leaders, is to make sure we don't lower that vision."
    Matsakis earned his Bachelor of Arts in biology from Capital University in 1984. He received his Master of Science in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State in 1989.
    Matsakis has had a vast coaching career, including two stints with Snyder in Manhattan first as a graduate assistant coach and then as the special teams coordinator/tight ends coach. He also served as the assistant head coach at Texas Tech University and the offensive coordinator at Hofstra University, among others.
    Page 2 of 2 - He also spent the 2009 season as the running backs coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.
    As a head coach, he had tours at Texas State University for the 2003 season and at Emporia State University from 1995-1998.
    Prior to joining the Bethany College staff, Matsakis has spent the previous three seasons as the head coach of Enka High School in Candler, North Carolina. Matsakis said the job with Enka High School taught him that nothing involved with a football program is too little.
    "Sometimes you get caught up," Matsakis said. "At Texas Tech, we had a strength coach and he did the weight room. You've got an equipment guy and he's doing the laundry. I was the guy who did the laundry these last three years and that's okay. I probably learned more about things doing that than anything else. Nothing is too little, because it's all important."
    Matsakis also put out a message to the Swede alumni base during his introduction.
    "I need your help," he said. "This is not a one man show. This is a community effort. For us, it's more than just money, it's positive PR. It's an opportunity to get people on campus that may never have been here or haven't been here in so long. And I want them to come back."
    Matsakis chose his coaching staff carefully, as all three bring to Bethany a championship pedigree.
    Tapley has spent time at Topeka West High School, Royal Valley High School and Kestral Heights School in Durham, N.C., as both an offensive and defensive line and special teams coach. He has also coached semi-professional football with the Carolina Eagles in the Central Carolina Football League, serving as the offensive line coach in 2009. Tapley was recruited to Emporia State by Matsakis after graduating Holton High School.
    "I am really excited to come back to Bethany College and be reunited with coach Matsakis," Tapley said in a press release. "His vision for our program is one that will unite the Swede nation for success in the future."
    Wirt has coached nine seasons with the Carroll College Saints in the Frontier Conference, where the Saints won eight FC championships and four NAIA National Championships during his tenure. Prior to that, he played four years as a defensive back with Carroll College, winning the FC title four times and the NAIA National Championship twice.
    Starkey coached the 2012 season at Southern Oregon University, also in the Frontier Conference, earning the conference championship and a fifth place finish in the NAIA Top 25.
    You can follow Matakis on Twitter, @MannyMatakis. The Swedes begin their season on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
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