Matt Nafie coaches the CAYA girls’ varsity team one last time

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Rebecca Ford, writer

Tuesday, January 19, was an emotional night for not only the varsity girls’ basketball team, but also for Matt Nafie who has coached the girls’ varsity team for thirteen years.

Alumni from previous years came from across the country to attend his last game.

I had the honor of interviewing Coach Nafie about his years coaching the basketball team.

What is your favorite coaching memory?

Winning games and championships, especially the championships in Texas—those jump right up there—but there are memories of experiences with the girls in our team meetings . . . they’d be up there, even above those championships.

What do you hope your girls have learned this year?

Every year there’s a saying that goes, ‘I’m not here to make you better players, I’m here to make you better people,’ so I hope it’s a combination where they’ve seen their basketball skills get a little better, they’ve learned a little, but as a person, they’ve learned something more valuable in their relationship with Christ and their relationship with others.

What made this year so successful?

We had a successful year even though we have five new girls who are new to varsity level, and there’s a big difference between JV and Varsity that you don’t realize until you’re out there facing the game. I think just the team trying to learn how to trust each other . . . and trust themselves. That’s the big thing.

 

I also had the opportunity to speak with a few of the varsity players to ask them questions about their coach. I first spoke with Senior Ryleigh Lewis who has been on the team for two years.

What is your favorite memory with Coach?

I would always see him in the hallways, and he would always come up to me and ask how my day was. Anytime I would come to practice, he’d always make sure I was having a good day, and he’d always be praying for each of us players. Just good-guy stuff!

What have you learned from him?

I’ve learned from Mr. Nafie to always have a positive attitude about everything and always look to God if I am ever struggling with anything.

What has been the best part of this year?

The best of the year is probably when we go to Texas, even though we haven’t gone yet. It’s already been a great season!

 

I then asked Junior Christa Horton, who is new to the varsity team this year, the same questions.

What is your favorite memory with Coach?

One of my greatest memories from Coach Nafie is last year . . . every time I would walk past him, he would always be like, “How you doing Christa?” or “Good morning!” He is probably one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to go to CA.

What have you learned from him?

I’ve learned to carry on the life skills that he’s taught me, not just in the game, but for the rest of my life!”

What has been the best part of this year?

“The best part of the year was winning the MlK tournament with coach.”

 

The last team member I interviewed was Olivia Leeseberg, who, like Ryleigh, has been on the team since last year.

What is your favorite memory with coach?

My best memories of Coach Nafie would probably be when we go for a basketball game, a UTC Mocs game. He’ll always tell you what to look for in the players, and what you should be doing.

What have you learned from him?

I’ve learned that even if you lose a game, that doesn’t matter—you keep your head up and cheer the other team on. You congratulate them and do your best in the next game.

What has been the best part of this year?

The best part of the year is probably just being on this team in general because he’s like a second father almost; he’s just so nice and he cares for you more than just basketball.