A Coach’s Story: Matt Lattig

Out on the 30-yard line the defensive linemen at Olentangy Orange High School were running through its typical drills: block recognition, quick hips, etc. In the middle of it all stood a 6’3” middle-aged man. Wearing a bucket hat with a long sleeve t shirt and shorts, was coach Matthew Lattig directing the linemen.

Lattig, who’s been at Olentangy Orange since 2014, has played a prominent role in the life of many student-athletes for the Pioneers; from football players and baseball players, to students he’s had in one of his health classes, his impact has been felt by many.

While he is a football and baseball coach as well as a teacher, he’s more than just that — Lattig is a life coach.

Lattig correcting a player during a scrimmage between OOHS and Central Crossing High School in 2015. Credit: John Skuratowicz

Lattig’s journey began on August 19, 1974 where he was born to parents Bill and Kathy Lattig in Johnstown, Ohio. Growing up Lattig developed a love for two sports: baseball and football. Playing in various youth leagues in both Johnstown and nearby Newark, his passion for the respective games intensified the older he got.

As he aged out of the youth leagues and got into high school, Lattig was a member on both the baseball and football teams for Newark Catholic, a small private school located about 40 minutes away from Columbus.

After he earned his diploma, Lattig emptied his bedroom and headed off to Westerville, Ohio, the home of Otterbein University where he played baseball and began his undergraduate studies in education. Knowing that playing baseball wouldn’t last forever, he turned his attention to coaching, where after he graduated, he became an assistant coach for the Buckeye Valley Barons High School baseball team for just a the 1997-’98 season.

After his year at Buckeye Valley, Lattig found himself back at Otterbein to coach a variety of sports as an assistant including: volleyball, softball and baseball.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the winds of change blew in Lattig’s direction and shifted his course just up the road into Lewis Center, Ohio. Lewis Center gave Lattig his first opportunity in the education world when he took the health teacher position at Olentangy High School.From 2000 through mid-2003 Lattig remained at Olentangy, until the opportunity to open up a new high school presented itself.

On August 24, 2003, when Olentangy Liberty High School opened up its doors for the first time, inside was Lattig, not only as a teacher, but as the school’s first head baseball coach.

Guiding the Patriots to a 134–77 record in 11 seasons, that included three league titles, three-time district runners-up and a district championship in 2005 — the coach needed a shift and stepped down at the end of the 2011, he resigned.

However, the coach would not be done, and in 2012 Lattig accepted an assistant coaching position at Olentangy Orange High School, at the time, the district’s newest high school. Coaching baseball and football (since the 2014–15 season), for the Pioneers, Lattig often is viewed at as the “tall health teacher,” but for the select few, in his short time at Olentangy Orange he’s made more of an impact than just being a health teacher.

“While playing football coach Lattig and I would talk about life all the time,” Nic Melsop said. Melsop, a current sophomore and football player at Lake Erie College, played football at Olentangy Orange from 2012–2015. As a defensive lineman, Melsop’s summers heading into his junior season as a Pioneer were spent mainly with Lattig and the other defensive linemen where a special bond formed between Melsop and Lattig.

Matt Lattig (left) and Nic Melsop (right) on Olentangy Orange’s graduation day for the class of 2016. Credit: OOHS Faculty Member

“Coach Lattig has meant so much to me. He was such a big role model in my life in high school because he was like my second father,” Melsop said. “I still talk to him to this day. He will always be an important person in my life and I thank him for everything he has done for me.”

For Lattig, this type of relationship is what makes sports so special.

“Once a coach decides it’s not about wins or losses, coaching is easy.”

For the last 10 years or so now, coaching has been extremely easy for Lattig as he is more focused on shaping young adults into standup citizens in a world that has strayed its light on quality people.

Even though 22 years of coaching can take a toll on the average person, Lattig isn’t your average person. To find a coach that communicates with his former players from years ago, to being in their weddings and all the big moments in their lives, to him that’s the biggest payoff.

“Being a life coach means you are comfortable in your own skin and can then talk to them (student-athletes) about their lives, emotions and experiences,” Lattig said. “That takes years of time to get that way, but when you have it, you have it.”

As Lattig heads into the midway point of his 22 year of coaching, the Pioneers baseball team is coming off of a state tournament appearance and the football team is riding its best season in school history, while nice indeed in terms of on-field success, for Lattig, if that means he can be even more of an impact off the field, than he’s here for it.

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