Pitzer Spotlights

2005-2006 Spotlight Archives

Matthew Waldeck ’06 the True Meaning of Student-Athlete

Matthew Waldeck '06After growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attending a large, strict, prep school for boys, coming to Pitzer and sunny California was quite a change for Matthew Waldeck ’06.

“I came from a school with 1,300 boys. There would be 30,000 people at a football game, no exaggeration,” Waldeck said. “Coming out here was a big shock, but that was what I was going for. I wanted to have time to explore my options as a student, as well as being an athlete.”

When Waldeck met Roger Caron, Pomona-Pitzer’s head coach at the time, he saw that the team was truly made of student-athletes. Coach Caron made it clear that if team members needed to miss practice for class, that was fine, and he encouraged everyone to go abroad, even though that might mean missing some training.

“When I visited Pitzer and spoke with Coach Caron, I saw that the Pomona-Pitzer program was designed as a Division III football program should be,” Waldeck explained. “It was clear that upon joining the team, I would be encouraged to become a Pitzer student, rather than a football player who also attended Pitzer, and explore anything I desired beyond football.”

And explore he did. Waldeck perused his interests in theater throughout his college career and he was the first Pitzer student to participate in Pitzer’s exchange with Payap University in Thailand.

“I went to Thailand for 5 months and loved it,” Waldeck said. “I plan to go back at some point. The people were extraordinary and the lifestyle is great. They have different priorities there. Work isn’t your life. They take time to develop themselves as people and go from there.”

Waldeck plays free safety and punt return and is the only four-year senior on the Pomona-Pitzer team. Building team spirit at Pitzer is a big priority for him this year.

“It is different here because the facilities are all down at Pomona,” Waldeck said. “A lot of the Pitzer students I talked into going down to our game last week had never been to the field before—they didn’t know where it was. And they all really enjoyed the game. If people show interest, it helps everyone on the team.”

Majoring in English with a minor in media studies, Waldeck isn’t sure where life will take him after graduation, but he is sure that Pitzer has exceeded his expectations.

“The complete experience of Pitzer has been so important to me. You meet so many different kinds of people here. Pitzer puts you in an environment where you challenge yourself and your beliefs,” Waldeck said. “I was introduced to things and ideas I probably wouldn’t have if I had gone to a larger school or stayed in Ohio—I would have stayed in my comfort zone and not grown as much as a person. I think you couldn’t get this type of experience anywhere else.”

There’s no place like Pitzer.

“I’m very thankful for that,” Waldeck concluded.

-Catherine Okereke ‘00