The senior baseball player is honored for service and athleticism
Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
Rowley leads the team in hits, doubles, homeruns and slug percentage. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of BU Sports Information
Few individuals in the athletic world are as respected as John Wooden. The former head coach of the UCLA Bruins won an unprecedented 10 national championships and is remembered for his inspirational quips that are used as formulas for success in both basketball and in life.
Wooden passed away in 2010, but his legacy lives on in many ways, including the prestigious Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup Award. The cup is awarded to athletes who display excellence on and off the field, exhibit prowess and sportsmanship, and serve the community. Past recipients of the award include football quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning, and this year Bethel’s own Matt Rowley was selected as one of 25 semifinalists. This is certainly not Rowley’s first achievement, as the baseball player was MIAC MVP and an All-American last season.
“As great of a baseball player as Matt is, he's an even better person,” said head coach Brian Raabe. “The Wooden award is for all colleges, at all divisions, at all levels, and Matt is in some elite company as a semifinalist. Even being nominated is an unbelievable honor, and Matt is truly deserving.”
Rowley is involved in a number of charitable foundations, most notably Hospitality House Youth Development in North Minneapolis. Having volunteered there for over 12 years, Rowley got his start at the house because of strong family ties to the organization.
“Both my parents volunteer for the house, and my sister is a teacher there,” Rowley said. “It has a Christ-centered focus, and I felt God calling me to go down there and help out the situations that are rough.”
Rowley’s duties at Hospitality House include organizing events for the kids and being a friend when needed.
The drive that calls Matt to sacrifice his time for others is the same drive that keeps him focused in practice and during long hours working on his game.
“You don't win the game on the field, you win the game in your heart,” Rowley said. “In volunteering or practicing baseball, I get motivated by the fact that I'm making a difference.”
Last spring, Rowley organized a breakfast for businessmen that raised $30,000 for Hospitality House. Despite his achievements, Rowley always speaks humbly of his work both on and off the field.
“Matt is a leader by example, and his work ethic is the thing that everyone sees,” Raabe said. “He's not a rah-rah guy that will scream at the team to pump them up, but that doesn't mean he isn't an effective leader. Baseball is a game of failure, and he knows that. He shows the confidence that leaders need.”
Speaking of his own success, Rowley said the impact of hard work can never be overstated, and nothing comes before the team.
“Doing all the hard work makes a difference and allows me to be the best I can be with the abilities I've been given,” Rowley said. “There are plenty of guys that don't get the chance to play, but they work their hardest, so it’s not fair to my team to give them anything less than the best I can be.”
Raabe admires the senior's attitude and believes that it will lead to another successful campaign in 2013.
“I want him to just go out there and play,” Raabe said. “And that’s exactly what he's doing.”