Eddie Matz loves volunteering — especially if it involves basketball and kids.
A lanky, 46-year-old Pikesville resident and former teacher, Matz thoroughly enjoys giving back to the community, which he’s done a great deal of since becoming the head of the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council basketball program nearly six years ago.
On March 4, Matz had a big day. The team he coaches at Pikesville Rec won a major championship, and Matz received a surprise honor – a Maryland General Assembly citation for all of the volunteer work he’s done over the years.
The citation was presented to him at Pikesville Middle School at the halftime of one of the championship games played that day. The award officially recognized Matz for his “leadership and dedication to the kids of the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council.”
“Really cool – entirely unexpected,” a clearly stunned Matz said of the citation. “When they gave it to me … I kind of had to breathe deeply and listen to it and experience it.”
Volunteering takes a lot of Matz’s personal time and concentration. As the program’s head, he is tasked with countless behind-the-scenes details to be attended to on a regular basis, such as setting up leagues, schedules, teams and coaches. Parents and players all say he goes above and beyond the call of duty.
After receiving the award on March 4, Matz stood by Pikesville Middle’s gymnasium and enjoyed getting numerous congratulations and handshakes from people walking by. Among them was State Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin (D-11th) , who competed against Matz on the basketball court in high school about 30 years ago, when Matz was at Randallstown and Zirkin was at Pikesville.
Zirkin shook Matz’s hand and talked about how much the Pikesville Rec program needs him. Besides Zirkin, Del. Shelly L. Hettleman, Del. Dan K. Morhaim and Del. Dana M. Stein, all of the 11th District, signed the citation honoring Matz.
“I have no idea how he does what he does,” Zirkin said of Matz. “It’s amazing. There’s so many kids that have had opportunities that really he’s helping to provide for. I don’t know what we would do if he wasn’t doing it.”
Matz’s day job makes all that much harder. He’s an ESPN senior writer and has been with the national sports media company since 2002. Matz’s job requires a great deal of travel around the country and long hours, but he still manages to continue coaching and volunteering for Pikesville Rec.
Matz and his wife, Whitney, have three sons: Ben, 15, Jackson, 10, and and Jonah, 8. All of the Matz boys have played or are still playing in the Pikesville Rec program.
Matz said his sons help him with various parts of his activities with Pikesville Rec, which he feels teaches them a valuable lesson about the importance of volunteering and giving back to one’s community. Jackson Matz said he was extremely proud of his dad’s citation and accompanying accolades.
“I think he absolutely deserves it,” he said. “It makes me really proud to see he’s this guy who does all of this, and it’s just a volunteer job that he doesn’t have to do if he doesn’t want to.”
Pikesville residents Joe and Jennifer Millman — who have a son in the league and played a role in making the citation come about – agreed with Jackson.
“He is working so hard behind the scenes at a thankless job,” Jennifer Millman said of Matz. “That is really a gift to the community.”
Matz also helps the program by sponsoring one of his son’s teams each season. He’s already received 13 plaques for doing that, something that’s taken up a lot of room on his home office wall.
But Matz said he will find a good place to showcase his newest honor. “This is going to be the anchor of my office,” he said of the citation. “There’s not a lot of space on the wall right now, but I’m definitely going to create space for this.”
Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.