Matson Enjoys Faster Than Usual Senior Year

June 06, 2018, 3:01 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - June 6, 2018 - The final handshakes, hugs and cap throws are wrapping up around the United States this week as the Class of 2018 celebrates completion of high school. Among them is U.S. Women's National Team athlete, Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.), who actually celebrated this feat quicker than the average high schooler in order to dedicate more time to the USWNT in preparing for the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup and beyond. The past few months have been filled to the brim for the 18 year-old midfielder, not buried in a textbook for an upcoming exam, but in the training room, pitch and reviewing film. Despite the early exit, Matson did not miss out on some of the most memorable senior year moments of a high schooler's life. USA Field Hockey sat down with its youngest National Team member between competitions to talk about her experience between graduation, this summer's schedule and her upcoming debut this fall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

USA Field Hockey: How early did you complete your high school curriculum? And could you describe that process?

Erin Matson: I was able to complete my required high school, NCAA and UNC admissions course requirements by the end of my senior fall semester. I took my last high school final and turned in my last paper in mid-January and started training full time with the U.S. Women’s National Team right away. I took a pretty heavy course load freshman and sophomore year and I took the SAT/ACT tests early so that gave me a good foundation when finishing high school early even became a consideration for me. I did have to take one online course last summer during Hockey World League 3 in South Africa, but that was the only extra class I needed to take to fulfill all of my requirements. My Unionville High School family was very supportive working through my class schedules, which definitely helped make the process less stressful, but it did take a lot of focus and sacrifice on my end to juggle everything. The original plan was for me to ‘grey shirt’ at UNC and start college early this past spring, but after we qualified for the World Cup last summer, my family, coaches and I discussed the option of me living in Lancaster and training with the USWNT instead. This way I could be with the team full time preparing for the World Cup in London this July.  


USA:How much of your extra free time was focused on finishing early?

EM: Once I decided in the fall of my junior year that I wanted to finish high school early, I have to admit, it was a little bit hectic reviewing all of the course requirements and mapping out my remaining class schedules for junior and senior year as much as possible in advance. As mentioned earlier, I was fortunate that I worked hard academically my freshman and sophomore years which gave me a strong foundation for all of the UNC admissions requirements. Taking the SAT, ACT and subject tests early, and making sure the NCAA Eligibility center was up to date and all those course requirements were met were also important steps in the process. I was extremely lucky to have such a special support system along the way too including my family, all of my coaches, the entire USWNT, the UHS faculty and administration and especially my UHS guidance counselor, Maribeth Lyles. When high school course work ended for me in January, I started an online college class the following week to help get ahead on my general education course requirements at UNC. I just finished up my final exam for that, so, now, the rest of my spring and summer can be focused on field hockey and preparing to go off to college in the fall! I never even thought about finishing high school early when I first stepped into high school, so it always helps to plan ahead - you never know what the future might have in store for you!


USA: Since you finished early, did that mean missing out on any major high school activities?

EM: Honestly, I am very fortunate with the way the training calendar fell and I won’t miss the major events that are important to me like prom and graduation. I was able to attend both my senior prom and my boyfriend’s senior prom in May and I will be walking with my class at graduation on June 5. Because The Nook is an hour and fifteen minutes from my home, I am also able to drive back for some of the year-end celebrations and senior ceremonies and the final senior dinner dance. I was even able to make my brother’s high school baseball banquet. He had a great season, so I wanted to go and support him and my senior classmates. The only major activity that I will miss out on is the senior stroll back to the elementary and middle schools and senior picture day. 



USA: Upon completion, how did it feel knowing your full attention could now be with the USWNT?

EM: Just being able to attend all the team workouts and training sessions full-time and really focus on preparing for the World Cup with the team has been incredible. During my last few weeks of high school back in January, I had the same anxious and exciting feeling that many seniors experience around this time of year. As our test series with Argentina in June and the World Cup in July are now right around the corner, I can honestly look back and say that all the hard work and sacrifice to finish school early was definitely the right decision.  


USA: Your comments/thoughts looking ahead to focusing with the USWNT, as well as college field hockey?

EM: The team’s main focus right now is making sure we are at our best both physically and mentally come World Cup time. We have a final trip to Argentina for a test series at the beginning of June which will also help us prepare. Argentina is always a tough competitor for us, and we look forward to playing them to see where we have improved and what we still need to work on before London in July. Saying I am excited to get down to Chapel Hill and for the college season to start is an understatement. However, right now I am focused on the USWNT and training for the upcoming events this summer.


USA: Anything else you would like to add about finishing school early to focus on a dream?


EM: I think it is very important to understand what is right for you and then to make the most of whatever path you choose. For me, the decision to finish high school early allowed me to get one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams, so the extra focus, time and effort I had to put in was well worth it in the end.