We’re Gonna Miss Matt – From the Bird’s Nest
Whether or not you're a fan of Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns, there's a good chance if I said the name Matt Hebert, it wouldn't mean much to you.
Such is the life of a worker in Media Relations. The work goes on and on and no one notices...until a mistake is made in a press release. Then everyone goes bonkers because, after all, these guys are representing the university and they're supposed to be perfect.
Matt has been with UL in many capacities ever since earning his degree a decade ago. He has, during his time with the Cajuns, been the primary contact for volleyball, mens' basketball, softball and baseball.
He's done his job quietly. Efficiently. Without fanfare, and for the most part. unnoticed.
Friday is Matt's last day working in a thankless job which requires a work schedule that would make most people look for other work at the earliest opportunity. You have to LOVE a job like that to make a career out of it.
And, Matt loved his job.
He's decided to leave for personal reasons more than anything else. His number of nieces and nephews has grown to five and it's hard to spend time with family in his job...especially working virtually every weekend. And, Matt is involved with church work and again, the weekend thing, especially during baseball season where there are no Sundays off, have made it necessary for Matt to prioritize.
I've worked with Matt most closely in the sports of Mens' Basketball and baseball. Having an opportunity to travel with him and occasionally share a meal (Matt doesn't eat very much) I got to know him on a personal level. That's not easy to do. Matt's pretty soft spoken and shy, sometimes almost painfully so. He doesn't open up to a lot of people.
Which makes me one of the lucky ones.
When former sports information directer Daryl Cetnar decided to move Matt from softball to baseball, I was happy. Baseball SID's were, generally speaking, graduate assistants who worked in media relations while pursuing masters degrees. Just about every year it was someone new. And, they weren't always easy to work with.
When Matt took over baseball, he immediately jumped in the deep end of the pool. And, he didn't need any floaties. It took, oh, about one game for me to realize how thorough, how passionate and how meticulous this guy was. Matt started by giving me the information most in his position would. And, then I asked for other things, which he gladly provided. Some of those things, like box scores from recent games around the league, Sunday statistics combining the first two games of a series and updated league standings and statistics, became part of the normal package with Matt. And, he still was giving me extra stuff like situational statistics (batting averages vs. left handers and right handers, batting average with the bases loaded. Walk to strikeout ratio) that no one else was getting. And, I love stuff.
Do you know how much time that takes? And, it seems, every game I was asking for something else.
"Matt, we have an eight game winning streak. Can I get batting averages for those eight games."
Regardless of the request, Matt never said no. Nor did he roll his eyes as if to say "Here we go again." He just said...every time, "Yes you can." "Thanks Matt." "You're welcome."
I joked with Matt, after getting a stack of information nearly two inches high before a baseball weekend, "You're killing a lot of trees."
After the first year, I told Daryl Cetnar if he ever took Matt off baseball, I'd kill him. When Daryl left and Brian McCann took over, the new guy and I went to lunch. I reiterated what I told Daryl. Taking Matt off baseball duties wasn't an option.
And, Matt's efforts weren't just noticed by me. Many visiting media members told me they wished they had one like Matt. And, I thoroughly understood where they were coming from.
Matt will turn 33 in September. That's plenty young and Matt has plenty of time to make a decision on his next career move. I am sure, whatever that is, he'll attack it with the same passion and the same attention to detail that he's done in all his years of sports information.
As I said, the work goes generally unnoticed, especially by the general public who have no clue how incredibly valuable those people are, not just to those of us in the media, but for anyone who looks at the UL website and in many instances, reads the paper, where some of the stories that appear are written by that department.
It's pretty much a thankless job. And, that's a good stopping point for this piece.