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The Scarlet & Black

Spotlight: Matt Chalupa

Matt Chalupa. Photo by Jenny Chi.
Matt Chalupa. Photo by Jenny Chi.
Matt Chalupa. Photo by Jenny Chi.

After graduating from Grinnell, Matt Chalupa ’12 returned to campus and is now the voluntary assistant coach for the men’s basketball team. In the 2011-2012 season, he finished second in the nation with a three-point shooting percentage at 56.2 percent.

What is your primary job as one of the assistant coaches?

I help with recruiting [and] I do a lot of film uploading and film breakdown. I’m basically just there to help out with whatever coach needs. Today for example, I have to get film from the William Penn coach we played on Tuesday. I have to get that uploaded to our Conference website to share with the rest of the teams. I also have to get it uploaded to Krossover, which is a statistical breakdown website. I need to call a bunch of recruits, we have a film session at 5:15 that I’m going to help lead, and then we have practice at 6:30.

What made you want to come back to Grinnell?

I just wanted to coach. I was in the Peace Corps and we got back in August and I found out in early October that we weren’t going back [due to the Ebola outbreak]. So I had to scramble to find something before the season started. Grinnell was obviously the first choice.

Is it strange to sit on the bench wearing a suit, as opposed to a jersey?

It’s different, I’d definitely rather be wearing a jersey. it’s got its ups and downs. You have more of a voice, but the coach is still definitely in charge, but it’s cool, they listen.

What is the biggest difference between being a coach and a player?

As a coach there’s a lot more thinking involved. Not to say you don’t think when you’re a player, but you just go out there and make it happen, whereas as a coach, you always have to be thinking about what’s happening and why, and if you want to change it, how. I know Coach A likes to focus on point guards, so I try to focus more on off-ball guys … to see what they’re doing on the backside—pick the spots where the other guys aren’t looking and see if I can’t offer a little advice here and there.

After graduation and prior to coming to Grinnell, what have you been up to?

Peace Corps in Guinea, West Africa. It was cool, it was tough, I hated it some days, loved it some days. I think that’s what most Peace Corps volunteers will tell you. I mostly did it for the experience. I didn’t really have any professional aspirations with it. We got evacuated after about 20 months because of Ebola.

How much of your advice does head coach David Arseneault take into consideration?

I don’t know, you have to ask him. I give him my ideas and if he wants them, he can have them. I recognize that he’s kind of helping me out, not only just giving me an opportunity here but also for next year. He’s trying to help me out get a job somewhere else. I definitely realize that  I kind of owe him a lot so I’m doing my best to work hard for me, and he appreciates that, so it’s been a pretty working relationship so far.

If you were to have lunch with any individual throughout history, who would it be?

John Wooden. He was the [basketball] coach of UCLA. He just seems like a really chill guy. Obviously he knows a lot about basketball, which is sweet.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be?

I’d be an elephant because they just look like they’re having fun all the time. And they’re pretty big which is pretty sweet.

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