By Pittman Alley ‘24
Matt Baskin ‘24 is an athlete with elite speed, but more importantly, an elite mentality. Approaching his days methodically, Baskins knows which days to go all out, or days to recover and work on core strength. He elevates himself above his peers and fellow teammates because of his attention to detail. The Fourth Former focuses on meditation to make sure his mental game is just as strong as how he performs on the field. Considered one of the best if not the best short-distance runner in New Jersey, he brought his talents to the football field at the tail end of last season and has seen exponential progress. In his first full season, over three games so far, he has accumulated over 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Pittman Alley: How has Coach Poe influenced you?
Matt Baskin: Coach Poe has been my dad away from my dad, he’s helped me a lot, and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. When I first came to school I hadn't even thought about picking up a football, he told me I should come out to the team. Transitioning [to football] and being away from my dad for the first time in my life [was challenging] and [Coach Poe] was that father figure that I missed here. He means so much to me.
PA: How has meditation helped you as an athlete?
MB: Meditation is so important for all athletes to do because [everyone] goes through adversity, and in sports in particular you need to be on top of your game at any single moment because it is an opportunity to get better and to perform. In games, things are not always going to go your way. You need to be able to breathe, adjust, and bounce right back. I feel like meditation really helps you become very strong in an area that is lacking for some.
PA: What keeps you motivated?
MB: A lot of people ask what motivational videos I watch. And I say I don't really believe in motivation…I really believe in discipline, sitting down, figuring out what you want, and going to get it. Not every day do I want to go work out, and not every day do I want to do my schoolwork, but I know to reach the goals I want to reach, I have to do it every single day.
PA: Why football?
MB: It’s a brotherhood. This year, I’ve been making so many new brothers.I am playing for a bigger purpose than just my own success. [For example],the feeling you get when you win a hard game [like] when we went to Deerfield [Academy] and won that game with all my brothers. It was not about me. I do not like when it is about me, I like when it is about the team. So in moments like that I feel so great, and I like sharing moments like that with the guys I work with day in and day out.
PA: How has your background in track helped you as a football player?
MB: I just love it because I like running fast, I like working hard, and I wanted to achieve so much Growing up, I never thought I would be as fast as I am today. Track has always been my first love - I try to get better every day. It has made me mentally strong and I would not be the athlete I was today if it was not for track.
PA: Why do you emphasize recovery so much?
MB: I think as you mature as an athlete you start to really understand that putting in the work is the easy part. [I have to be] mentally disciplined - going back to the meditation - being mentally disciplined enough to understand [that I] I can’t workout hard seven times a week, two times a day. [Being a healthy student-athlete] is more than just going on the field or going to shoot, or going to lift every single day, maybe even twice a day. [You have to learn] to work smarter, not just harder.
I have to get my recovery in. I have to take cold showers. I have to meditate. I have to stretch and do core, I have to do the things I do not want to do but that are really going to elevate my game and take it to the level only one percent of people can take it to because only one percent of people are doing those little things. That is how you get an advantage.
PA: What are some of your goals for this season?
MB: I have so many. I think one of my goals is - I wrote this down before the beginning of the year - to put in max effort no matter what is going on in my academic, family, or social life every single day. I have give it all I have on the field because nothing is guaranteed. I have to hold myself accountable and be grateful for the opportunity every day,
Another goal is just to learn from every mistake I make on the field. I want to take constructive criticism and be able to learn from it, not take it personally, and become a better football player, which in the long term is going to make me a better man.
As far as a team goal, I want to overcome adversity. We were not able to do that against Choate [Big Red was shut out 37-0 on Sept. 24], but I have a lot of faith in our guys that we are going to hit the ground running this week and we are going to overcome the adversity that we face right now. Another goal for the team is, in a time like this where everyone is pointing fingers, and we are hearing all this noise in the background, that we can come together even closer, right, and finish off the season strong.
PA: What is your go-to pregame song?
MB: Right now my go-to song is “Keep the Family Close” by Drake. My mentor sent me that song a while back, and it just gives me full perspective of my situation. [I want to allow] myself to be grateful for the opportunities ahead. I want to go into every game grateful for the opportunity [to compete].I know that not only can I help win the game, but I can also, in the long run, help support my dad.
Going back to your earlier question [why football?], I just love whenever the people around me succeed because I’ve been there, I’ve seen their bad days, and so seeing them succeed and seeing them overcome their adversity - whether that’s they had a bad day at school, or their girlfriend broke up with them - seeing them then in that good moment makes me happy.
Big Red football tackles Phillips Exeter Academy October 2, at home, at 11 a.m.
For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at email@example.com.