Coach Matt Larry named Shorter University Employee of the Year
By Matt Green
ROME – His work on the baseball field, in the community and in the lives of so many Shorter University student-athletes isn’t evident only to those that work alongside him in the institution’s Department of Athletics.
As evidenced on Thursday, Matt Larry’s generosity, dedication and compassion in all walks of life are evident to everyone on the Hill.
Shorter’s ninth-year head baseball coach and 1993 Shorter alumnus was honored on Thursday night as Shorter University’s Employee of the Year at the annual faculty/staff dinner hosted by President Dr. Donald Dowless.
Larry, who has spent a total of 18 years with Shorter’s baseball program as both an assistant and head coach, was honored as the university’s top employee for the first time in his tenure.
“This is a very humbling award,” said Larry. “Working at Shorter, I want to be servant not only to the Lord, but also to the school and the Greater Rome community in any way that I can.
“This is a very big honor, but I feel that we, as a program, are simply doing a job that is supposed to be done. I not only strive to, but want our players to serve the school in any way that we can, whether it be on the field, in the classroom or in the community.”
Larry’s accomplishments as a coach are well documented amidst Shorter’s proud baseball history.
As an assistant, Larry helped lead the Hawks to a pair of Georgia Alabama Carolina Conference (GACC) championships in 1998 and 2003. He took over as head coach of the program in 2004 and in 2006, was named the Georgia Dugout Club Coach of the Year after guiding Shorter to a 34-23 record, Shorter’s first 30-win season since 1996.
The Hawks have enjoyed a resurgence under Larry over the past two seasons, going 40-18 in 2011 – Shorter’s first 40-win season since 1981 and two off the single-season wins record – and this year, posting a 37-16 overall record backed by a second straight third place finish at the Southern States Athletic Conference Baseball Championship.
Shorter cracked the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll for the first time in program history this season, climbing as high as No. 15 in the country before settling at No. 20 in this week’s final regular season poll. That ranking, coupled with a fourth place finish in the SSAC regular season standings, will see Shorter earn an at-large bid into the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round for the first time since 2003. The NAIA will release the 45-team field and regional site pairings on Sunday.
While those successes are impressive, Larry, more importantly, has built a reputation as a community leader thanks to his tireless service efforts and outreach initiatives focused on the many needs of Greater Rome through Shorter Baseball.
Each year, Larry and the baseball program host several charitable events during home baseball doubleheaders, including Striking Out Breast Cancer, Mal’s Pals Day and Military Appreciation Day. His teams have taken mission trips to the Dominican Republic, hosted youth T-ball clinics through the YMCA each year, participated annually in the Red Ribbon Week drug abuse prevention program in conjunction with local elementary schools and volunteered as umpires and scorekeepers with the Rome YAI Baseball Behind the Levy, among other activities.
Larry and the baseball program engage the Rome community like no other collegiate athletics program in Northwest Georgia and, for he and his team’s commitment to servant leadership, the Hawks were named the 2011 NAIA Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character National Team Award winner.