Nick Mata, RUHS Volleyball Coach

When most people think volleyball coach they’re usually imagining an agitated elderly balding man in workout shorts and running shoes, yelling at the players to get their act together. Well Nick Mata, the RUHS girls and boys volleyball coach, is neither elderly nor balding, but rather young and passionate about his coaching career. I sat down with Nick in the comforts of the RUHS Finance Office where Nick works part time, and asked him a few questions.


Mara: So, tell me about yourself. What got you into volleyball? Is it something you’ve been pursuing since you were little?

Nick: Started playing in middle school and played for the team here when I went to Rincon …graduated in 2010 [my senior year]. And then one of my old coaches, Jeff, who was the boys coach, sort of brought me back to coach boys in 2011, and then 2012 I got into the girls program after another friend of mine, Alicia Ramirez, asked me if I wanted to help with the girls. So I volunteered for a year  and then I started getting into club volleyball with Zona [a local Tucson club volleyball team]. I became the girls JV coach [at RUHS] and then the year following that I was the girls Varsity coach. This is the fourth year and I’m still with Zona so I’ve been coaching volleyball for like 5 to 6 years now *laughs* um and I just love coaching, nothing specific towards volleyball, just coaching.


Mara: Is there anything specific you like coaching that you’ve kind of developed in the past 5 to 6 years?

Nick: The bond with the girls, um or really any of the players that I’ve coached cause I coach boys too. And just kind of seeing them grow as players as opposed to just going through the motions and coaching to compete.


Mara: You’ve been coaching for a while, especially with the Rincon Volleyball program, so what do you like the most about the Rincon Volleyball Program, whether girls or boys or both, and working on this campus?

Nick: I spent so much time as a part of this program and it was such a big thing to me when I was here and the coaches that were coaching me and the people that became my friends through the program meant so much to me that once I had the opportunity to come back and coach I took it….Just being on campus, I like how you get this different mix of kids. It’s interesting to watch kids interact and grow as they play in the program and it’s fun. No one else has that in a volleyball program. I feel like the program we run specifically, there’s so much, you can train so much of sort of the mental part of the game, we’ve always been good at that and I think it’s something that I love about coaching this program.


Mara: Because coaching is so unique to you, do you have a favorite memory or moment that you have enjoyed or enjoy?

Nick: I don’t think I could pick out one specific moment that would stand out any more than the rest but there’s at least one every season. I remember a few years ago beating Sahuaro, 2015, that was just kind of a big game, it was senior night, and it was a big moment for them because Sahuaro was this great team and we were this great team and all those girls wanted to do was beat Sahuaro. To do it on their senior night in five sets, there was so much energy in the gym and so many people that packed it, and it came down to the very end and it was just…that’s the most fun, cause that’s when so much of the game seems to be stressful sometimes for the girls that to watch them let it all out and put it all out on the line, and watch them be rewarded for that. There are other moments too, even it’s just a moment for a specific player. Watching them just sort of have a breakthrough after working for months and months to try and work on one little thing and then it finally clicks. Those moments are always memorable, those are the moments I enjoy the most as a coach.

Mara: I can tell you like to see the growth in the player?

Nick: Yeah because it goes beyond just that one moment that they worked on something this whole time and now they’re a better player for it, I think it teaches life lessons in the end… I think it’s a big step forward for everyone if you ever have a moment like that.


Mara: Kind of transitioning off of coaching specifically here, alongside coaching, you graduated from University of Arizona?

Nick: Yes

Mara: Did you go to graduate school or you came to coaching?

Nick: I graduated 2015 with an Engineering degree but I loved coaching volleyball so much and I’m at a point in my life where I’d rather a pursue a passion rather than jump into something that’s going to make me money… For now I just, I enjoy coaching so much and I kind of recognized that about halfway into the Engineering program that coaching may be still something that I want to continue pursuing. *laughs* I could very well jump back into engineering anytime but I’m not too worried about it cause either way I’m going to be pursuing something I’m pretty passionate about and that’s all that really matters to me in the end.


Mara: So going forward, you’d like to continue coaching at RUHS?

Nick: I definitely want to continue coaching, whether it be here or somewhere else, uhm probably end up pursue coaching here if I end up with an engineering job and try to make my schedule work out. If I don’t go into engineering then at some point I’ll continue to pursue coaching at a higher level where it’s a profession and not just a little side stipend. But for now, I love what I do. I find a way to make it work.


Mara: Last thing, is there anything else you’d want people to know in just a rundown interview about you?

Nick: I just love competing.

Mara: *laughs*

Nick: Whatever it is that I do I’m competitive about it. I go out and golf with all my friends all the time and I don’t just do it for fun I do it to beat all of them. I stay here coaching and…I’ve kind of grown as a coach over the course of the years and it’s fun to watch some of the girls I’ve coached come back and see how I’ve grown as a coach because I’m not just teaching the girls, they’re teaching me….That’s what’s really fun about it.


During our meeting, it was apparent to me how passionate Nick is about coaching and how much it means to him. Nick currently is coaching both the girls and boys school volleyball teams at RUHS, girls at the Varsity level and boys at the Junior Varsity level, while also acting as a substitute teacher and manager at the RUHS Finance Office. His charisma and dedication to his players makes him a coach that RUHS has cherished over the past few years.

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