On the surface, it’s easy to admire the life of Trevor Matich.
The Sacramento, Calif., native was the starting center on the Cougars’ 1984 national championship team. He was at BYU long enough to snap the pigskin to prominent quarterbacks Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Robbie Bosco.
After college, Matich played for five teams over a 12-year NFL career.
The towering man with a charismatic personality eventually transitioned into sports broadcasting, where he has won eight Emmys for his work with the Washington Redskins and established himself as a college football analyst for ESPN.
But more admirable than what Matich has achieved is the story of how he got there. He faced multiple personal challenges growing up. He learned to deal with adversity as a Mormon missionary in Mexico. More worthwhile lessons were gained during his time in the NFL, paving the way for his opportunities in sports broadcasting.
Some say he is lucky, but there is more to it than that, he says.
“The same people that tell you how lucky you are are the same people who wouldn’t put in the same work you did to have a chance to become lucky,” Matich said in an interview last June at BYU football media day. “Truthfully, a lot of my success is just blessings. I’ve worked harder than most people I’ve ever seen. There are lots of little miracles, things that shouldn’t have happened but did.”
Growing up in Sacramento, Matich described himself as slow, small and uncoordinated. As a result, he was a target for bullies.
“I was the last kid picked for teams at recess. Sometimes they picked teams and left to go play while I was still standing there. I got cut from every school team that had cuts,” Matich said. “The only reason I played football on the school team was because they kept everybody, but I didn’t play. I was naïve and it never dawned on me that I should go in a different direction.”
To make matters more complicated, his parents divorced when he was young, leaving his mother alone to raise four children. Carol Matich worried deeply about each child, especially Trevor and his younger brother. But there was very little money and she was occupied with supporting the family. At one point, she had three different jobs, she said.
“I felt badly because a boy needs a dad. I thought, ‘How am I going to raise him without a dad?’ I really prayed about that,” Carol said in a telephone interview. “I look back now and marvel at what he’s accomplished.”
Matich said his teenage body was so weak that he had to lift weights with younger kids instead of those his own age.
Even then, he didn’t give up on football. He persistently asked his coaches what he could do to get better. He came to practice early and stayed late doing individual drills to put in extra work.
A growth spurt in the middle of high school helped his cause, but it wasn’t until his senior year at Rio American High School that he finally earned a starting position on the varsity team. He took advantage of the opportunity. When the season was over, he had scholarship interest from 60 schools, including BYU.
“When the door was open, I was ready,” he said.
Mission to Mexico
Matich played two seasons at BYU before accepting a call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in Torreon, Mexico, in the early '80s. Some people questioned his decision to interrupt his football career, but Matich knew he was going for the right reasons.
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