Coaching is about relationships. Coaching is about teaching. Coaching is about knowledge.
Matt Canada has harvested the football lessons he acquired from mentors Marvin Shepler and Bill Mallory — as well as his contemporary coaching pupils — and turned his passion into a 22-year career.
The former New Palestine quarterback is entering his first season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State.
Canada, who graduated from New Pal in 1990, said he tries to select pieces of information and wisdom from each coach he’s worked with.
“All of those guys mold who you are; you just try to enjoy it every day,” Canada offered. “If you like what you do, if you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Over the years, Canada’s combination of experience, personal drive and philosophy flexibility has resulted in points — lots and lots of points — for his offenses, no matter where he’s coached, whether it be at Indiana, Butler, Northern Illinois or Wisconsin.
He’s guided a pro-style system (2003 Northern Illinois), a pass-centric attack (Indiana), the no-huddle spread (2011 Northern Illinois) and power run/play action scheme (Wisconsin), succeeding at each stop with varying levels of talent. NC State is installing an up-tempo system for Canada’s first season.
“What you saw at Northern, Wisconsin, and IU…you saw creativity just in order to maintain a high level of success from an offensive standpoint,” explained NP athletic director Al Cooper, who has known Canada since the latter’s elementary school days. “He’s had a different clientele at Wisconsin, IU and Northern, but he’s always been successful.
“Now he’s at NC State, and I expect big things. And I know he does, too.”
With Canada at every junction of his football career has been a mainstay of support from his hometown friends, notably Scott Miller. The 1989 New Palestine graduate used to catch passes from Canada in high school and now treks to multiple games each year with other New Pal natives — no matter where Canada is located.
“We’ve followed him. A couple of my buddies and our wives are very close to Matt,” Miller said. “It’s fun hearing his stories and giving him support.”
Canada’s football education began in the late 1980s and early 90s at New Palestine, where he quarterbacked the Dragons under longtime coach Marvin Shepler.