by Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
With a basketball and dreams of playing at the division one level in college, senior management major Matthew Glassman worked diligently to fulfill his goals. Beginning his career as a freshman walk-on, Glassman became captain his junior year and is now in his fourth year on the Manhattan College Men’s Basketball team. Through the support of his teammates, coaches and family, Glassman was awarded the team’s final scholarship spot during his final year of playing for the team earlier this semester. Glassman’s hard work and dedication to the sport and to the team have led him to evolve not only as a player, but also as a person.
The Quad sat down with Glassman to talk about his recent accomplishments.
The Quadragnle: How long have you been playing basketball?
Matthew Glassman: I first picked up a basketball when I was in, I think, second grade at recess, but I didn’t start playing competitively until third grade. So, it’s been a long time. But yeah, in third grade I played in my town, we had our own travel league. We would go from town to town and just play against the teams that are in our area. So, third grade was like the first time I really started playing basketball.
TQ: What was the process of joining the team at Manhattan?
MG: For me, I did an extra year of high school, so I was at a prep school called the New Hampton School. Basically, one of the assistant coaches, Coach Matt Grady, saw me at my prep school when we were playing at the gym, and he actually recognized me because my brother used to play for Manhattan College on the team way back, I think it was 2014 or 2015, when they went to the NCAA tournament. So, he kind of recognized me and basically said to me ‘Yea, we have a spot for you.’ I took it and I came here and since I’ve been here it’s a lot of trying to be the best teammate you can be, like for your first few years.
Being a walk-on is different than being on scholarship in the way that, like, a lot of kids who are walk-ons at the divisional level, they most likely didn’t have scholarship offers from other schools. So, my coaches don’t have to have walk-ons at all. They can just say we just want the scholarship guys and that’s it. So basically, when I’ve been here, all I’ve done is just be a really good teammate, trying to get my teammates better and to just be really selfless.
TQ: What motivates you to play and show up for your team during every practice and game?
MG: One thing immediately jumps out to me is when I was in seventh grade, I was in a social studies class and my teacher asked me, he was like, ‘Matt, what do you want to do when you grow up? Just give me any thought you have.’ And I told him, I want to play Division 1 basketball and he just laughed at me in front of the whole class. At first I didn’t understand what he was doing, but then I realized was laughing at me and he didn’t think it was possible that I could do it. When I finally got to the divisional level I just noticed that kids from my town, they’re gonna go through the same thing that I went through. And, I just know that I have people watching me and for me, whether I play well, or don’t play at all, or play like a minute, or the whole game, it’s more about the fact that I’m here and I made it. I can show kids growing up that, like, they can do whatever they want to do as long as you put the work in and really dedicate yourself. That’s sort of why I play.
TQ: Have you felt that motivation change or increase since you received the scholarship?
MG: I came to school here as a walk on, accomplished my dream of getting to play divisional basketball, and then some stuff happened towards the beginning of this year, and I obviously got the chance to have a scholarship and once I was finally given that, it kind of confirmed that all the stuff that I was doing up until that point was important and necessary. And now that I’ve gotten the scholarship, it just changes my mindset in the way that there’s still more to do, if that makes sense. I wasn’t satisfied, ‘Alright, I am a walk on, I made it, that’s it.’ My parents are paying for school, I still have some debt from my first three years, right, and I get the scholarship and that part, just knowing that I save my dad a ton of money for this year and next year, it’s awesome. But right now I can finally just focus on basketball and helping my team, and I feel not more responsible, but just even more motivated to do what I was meant to do by coming here, if that makes sense.
TQ: What were your feelings when you heard about receiving the scholarship?
MG: So, I don’t even know. A lot of people came up to me and congratulated me and they were asking me, ‘What did you think?’ The person who was talking to me, who announced that I got the scholarship, he was the Chief of the New York Police Department. So, he came in to speak and like, once he started talking, he said my name, I was like, all right, I didn’t do anything bad, I’m not in trouble or anything, so something’s about to happen. And then once he told me, honestly, in the video if you look at it, like I’m sitting in my seat and my head just dropped back. Because I was just so relieved. No one really understands how much time I’ve spent chasing to play division one basketball or getting a scholarship.I remember being in fifth and sixth grade and waking up before school, going into my garage, doing ball handling for like 30 minutes before school, going to school, going to AAU practice and then after AAU practice coming back and shooting outside at night, like going by myself to the courts. I was never like a partier, so I would tend to spend my time either with my family or out by a hoop somewhere. So, all that time that I put in and people were like ‘Oh, why do you spend so much time doing this? Why are you playing basketball when you could be out partying or like doing something else?’ It was all worth it.
TQ: How did your teammates react to you getting the scholarship?
MG: A couple of my teammates, they actually knew a couple of weeks before that coach was going to give me the scholarship, so they were kind of keeping the secret and holding it, and they did a good job because I had no clue. But, they were just really happy for me. Once they announced it they all got up and everyone just came over to me at once and were just congratulating me. I don’t know, they all see the work that I put in for basketball and outside of the school, just all the stuff that I’ve done on campus, so they just know I work really hard. They were actually the ones who pushed for me to have the scholarship so, just knowing that they had my back, like they could have easily said ‘You know what, let’s go recruit this kid, I know he’s really good, he can help us out a lot,’ but the fact that they told coach like ‘No, give it to Matt.’ I have endless love for them, honestly.
TQ: How have your coaches helped you grow as a person?
MG: Coach Mas, he’s basically been treating me the way he was treated when he played at Kentucky. He was a walk-on as well when he was at Kentucky, and he ended up getting a scholarship. I’m pretty sure he was captain of his team, too. But, he’s really trying to hold me accountable and hold me to a certain standard, which he expects me to be as high as possible.
While I’ve been here, I’ve been put through every possible stressful situation. And I feel like I can honestly do anything I put my mind to when I come out of here and I’m looking forward to that. Our coaches have really high expectations for us. That’s how they’ve helped us grow.
TQ: What are your personal goals for the upcoming season?
MG: First thing, I’m just excited to be back in a gym with fans. And honestly, every game we had last year just kind of felt like a scrimmage. That’s one thing, just having fans and having the actual atmosphere of playing basketball in a game setting. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to. But, the main goal that I’m excited for is chasing that MAAC championship and winning it and going to the NCAA tournament, and just seeing what we can do, because we have an unbelievable team. And, the three years that I’ve been, it’s not a secret, we’ve honestly underachieved for the teams that we’ve had. We’ve always had such high expectations that we just haven’t gotten over that hump. Last year, we lost a lot of games by one or two possessions, and two or three or four points. So, now it’s like alright, everyone knows what needs to get done and I’m so excited for us to finally see all the work that we’ve put in hopefully into wins and championships, that’s what I’m most excited for.