The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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Meet the Coaches: Matt Bollant

Women%E2%80%99s+head+coach+Matt+Bollant+instructs+the+Eastern+women%E2%80%99s+basketball+team+against+University+of+Tennessee+at+Martin+Thursday+evening+in+Groniger+Arena.
Sia DeyKoontz
Women’s head coach Matt Bollant instructs the Eastern women’s basketball team against University of Tennessee at Martin Thursday evening in Groniger Arena.

Matt Bollant is the current head coach of the EIU women’s basketball team. 

Bollant is originally from Winona, Minnesota, and he dreamed of being in the NBA. But those dreams changed once he realized he wanted to do more for the sport.  

Having a passion for basketball since childhood, he continued to play in high school and some of college. 

Bollant always had the thought of wanting to coach in the back of his head, but he was just waiting to execute it. 

Since he started playing basketball with his older brother at such a young age, he was far ahead of the other players on his youth team. 

“I had been playing for several years, so he kind of got me into sports.” Bollant said. “Then I had a really good youth coach. He made me feel super confident and made our team feel confident.”  

Having that motivation and confidence as a young player helped him when he started coaching after his college career. 

“The one thing I learned from that coach for sure was just to help your players be confident and believe in them,” Bollant said.  

Bollant started coaching in the Philippines at 20 years old, following in the footsteps of his brother who was on a missionary trip there. Bollant coached a high school team there for six months.  

Following his graduation from Winona State University, Bollant found the opportunity to be an assistant coach for University of Evansville under head women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett.  

“I worked with Pat Bowlen as a girls’ coach,” Bollant said. “And then I met Kathi, and she was a women’s basketball coach at Evansville. I got my start with that.” 

Bollant went on to coach for Bryan College for five years, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for five years and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for five years, coming to Eastern in 2017. 

While coaching women’s basketball has many positive factors, Bollant said, there are also many challenges that must be overcome in order to be successful as a coach. 

“I think the harder part that people don’t realize is that yesterday I drove nine hours to watch a game [for recruiting],” Bollant said. “Thankfully, I’ve got a great staff that I can rely on, and they share the load and do a ton of things. I’ve delegated more than I ever have because my staff is so good.”  

“There’s more to it,” Bollant said. “Everybody loves the coaching, the practice and games, but the driving and the recruiting. I guess [the] stress that comes with managing a staff and managing 15 to 16 players off the court as well.” 

One of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is seeing the players grow and improve over time, Bollant said. He takes great pride in the development of the team, both on and off the court.  

“I love to see their players grow, and to see how they change from when they’re freshman coming in.” Bollant said. “25 years later, we still have relationships with some of those players, and they come to our games.” 

Eastern’s women’s basketball is hoping to secure a high seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament starting on March 6 in Evansville, Indiana. 

  

Payton Liggins can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

 

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About the Contributor
Payton Liggins, Reporter
Payton Liggins is a freshman sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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