Matula to retire after 18 seasons at helm

Andrew Little | Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Lily Haller
Rob Matula, the winningest coach in Mason girls basketball history, has led the team since 2005.

After three state final-four appearances, seven Greater Miami Conference championships, and countless lives impacted, girls’ basketball coach Rob Matula’s legendary coaching career is approaching its conclusion.

On November 30, 2023, Matula announced his intent to retire at the end of the 2023-24 season, concluding his 18-year tenure as the head coach of the Comets. 

Matula started his teaching and coaching career at Mason in 1988, and has lived in the city with his family ever since. Matula taught for 33 years, retiring in 2021. His coaching career included stints as an assistant for Mason’s boys team, head coach of Talawanda (1999-2001) and Sycamore’s (2001-2005) boys teams, and the last 18 years leading Mason’s girls program. Matula said that coaching at Mason, where he has spent the majority of his professional life and raised his family, has made his career more meaningful and memorable.

“This is home,” Matula said. “This is where I first came out of college for my teaching/coaching job so for me, the biggest meaning or feeling is pride. I’m very proud of how our program has represented the city of Mason and our school. There are other great feelings I have about leading this program but pride is the greatest of those.

After retiring from Mason as a teacher in 2021, Matula was not ready to stop coaching, citing his connections to his players. Now that he is several years removed from the classroom, Matula said the timing was right to close the book on his coaching career.

“Since I’ve been retired [from teaching] for several years, I don’t have that same connection outside of basketball and to me, that is why I’ve decided to step down,” Matula said. “I love the kids I have right now but there is something lost with me not being in the building. I told my players, [my decision to retire] isn’t really about them, it’s totally about me.”

Matula decided with his wife and family and then informed his staff and administration. Before his formal announcement, he sat down with the team after practice to let them know he was retiring. Parrish said the players had mixed emotions when they heard the news, as they were happy for their coach but also sad to know his career was coming to an end.

“I honestly started tearing up when he told us [he was retiring],” Parrish said. “We all just want the best for him. We were all pretty understanding.”

Photo by Lily Haller
Rob Matula won 14 sectional titles and 10 district titles at Mason.

Junior Madie Parrish has played for Coach Matula for three years, starting on varsity as a freshman. Parrish said that Matula has impacted her in many different aspects, including acclimating to the team her freshman year, being a resource in her college recruiting process, and mentoring her to become a more confident person and leader.

“He’s meant a lot to me,” Parrish said. “It’s been a long journey with how he’s been able to help me grow as a player and on and off the court as a person too. I’m just really grateful for him.”

Matula’s career is closing on a triumphant run, as the Comets are coming off of three consecutive GMC championships with a 72-6 record in that span. 

Parrish described the players’ approach to this season as “ending on a make” to send off Matula on a high note with the best possible season. 

“If I’m a motivation for them to work hard, that’s okay with me,” Matula said. “What’s most important to me is that the team play for each other, their community, and their school. If I’m a distant 4th, I’m good with it. It has always been about my players and their successes.”

The Comets are off to a 4-1 start to the 2023-24 season, with a 3-0 conference record so far and a 52-51 loss to Beavercreek in their season opener. 

Matula said his retirement has not impacted the way he approaches his final season, as his job to coach his players to the best of his abilities remains the same as it has throughout his career.

 “I’m going to be me up until that last second ticks off the clock,” Matula said. “My goal this season, as it has been with all the seasons I’ve coached, will be to put a team on the floor that will play as hard as they can, give themselves a chance to win games, and represent [the Mason] community with class.”