Football: Stepping down as coach 'what's best for my family' for Owls' Study

Football: Stepping down as coach 'what's best for my family' for Owls' Study
Westminster football coach Matt Study gives directions from the sidelines during the Owls' game against Urbana on Sept. 1, 2018. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

Matt Study was born and raised in Carroll County, and has said coaching football at Westminster High School was always his dream job.

The Owls alum recently decided to step down after 12 years with the program, however, a decision he said was not an easy one to make.


“It’s what’s best for my family and it’s what’s best for my faith because I can’t get that time back,” said Study, 42, a father of three who has two younger sons, ages 12 and 8.

“I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not just be a good coach and an OK dad. That just can’t be that way and it was tough this year.”

Study’s family was dealt a blow in November when Richard Study, Matt Study’s father, died unexpectedly at age 62.

Matt Study coached the Owls for four years after previously serving under longtime coach Brad Wilson as an assistant for eight years.

He questioned the decision to step aside for a while and the thought floated around in the back of his mind as he asked himself how much of an impact he could make on the football program while still upholding his family values.

He said he would be doing a disservice to the program if he could not be in the right frame of mind to lead them. The program is run 365 days a year, he said, and it’s what they still deserve.

“The game of football teaches you so much about life and I think when I look back at the seasons I’ve had there — we’ve lost classmates, lost a coach, I lost my dad,” Study said. “Those life pieces and the perseverance of going through that, it’s not just unicorns and rainbows. You’re going to have obstacles that you have to go through and we’ve had some highs of highs and the lows of lows at that school and with the football program over the years.”

These obstacles brought the team together to form a consistent program capable of finding success. The Owls went 27-12 under Study, won a Carroll County Athletic League championship, and earned a spot in the Class 3A West Region final game for two consecutive seasons.

Westminster withdrew from the CCAL in 2015 and 2016, and played a fortified schedule that included games against 3A contenders such as Linganore, Oakdale, Tuscarora, and South Hagerstown. South Carroll was the lone county team that remained on the Owls’ schedule during that two-year hiatus from county play.

The Owls missed the playoffs those two seasons, but returned to county contention in 2017 and dominated the playing field. They went undefeated in county play and won their first county title since 2013, advanced to the regional final, and crowned the Times Football Player of the Year in wide receiver Zane Lewis.

“I think when Coach Wilson was there, we had so many visions and things we wanted to accomplish,” Study said. “He got us so far and then I was able to take over and but my own spin on things. I was able to fulfill a lot of things that he and I set out to do. For example, we finally have our own boosters, we have two full-time strength coaches and a relationship with Westminster Strength and Conditioning.”

Study said the culture of the program changed and the Owls were able to renovate their weight room with almost 6,000 square feet of space, larger than some collegiate programs have.

He will miss the relationships he’s made with the players the most, he said. But, there’s much more.

“Walking through the gates on a home Friday night football game because there’s just nothing like it,” Study said. “Talking with several former pro athletes I’ve had the pleasure of meeting throughout the years of coaching who have come to talk with the team and everything, it’s just mind-boggling listening to them and they have it all, you think about it and they say they would give it all up to run out of this tunnel and play on a Friday night.


“For me to say that I’m going to miss it, it’s nothing that somebody else isn’t going to miss.”