Wise Pioneer morphs into Florida Gator

Abby Ferguson

Sports Editor

As a liberal arts college, Transylvania University has the unique opportunity to prepare students in many areas of life, which sets graduates up for beneficial experiences. In the case of Matt Wise, a 2011 graduate and former men’s basketball player, this opportunity came in the shape of being a graduate manager of the University of Florida men’s basketball team.

Wise is taking classes in sports management and will graduate with his Master’s degree in the spring of 2013. During his time as a graduate manager he has helped with practices and individual workouts, runs errands for the coaches, creates mail-outs for recruits, does laundry and helps with summer camps.

As a Gainesville native, this opportunity at Florida holds a special place in Wise’s heart.

“My mom has been the head volleyball coach here since 1990. My dad is the color commentator for men’s basketball. So I have known the program for as long as I can remember,” said Wise. “Also, I have worked the basketball camps here every summer since 2007. So when it came time to find a program to be a part of, I was fortunate enough to have connections here and really fortunate enough for there to be an opening on the staff for me.”

During his time at Transy, Wise learned valuable lessons that have influenced his time at Florida.

“Being a part of Transy basketball was a major help in my current opportunity,” said Wise. “My basketball IQ would never be at the level it is without Transy basketball.”

Wise has also seen up close what it takes to run a successful basketball program.

“As a player, I felt like I spent so much time in the gym with practices, individual workouts, and lifts. But I was wrong about how much time I was devoting to the program,” said Wise. “It took me a little while to adjust to it, but now most of my day is spent in the practice facility. Some days I’ll be here for more than 13 or 14 hours.”

Along with the basketball skills Wise obtained during his time at Transy, he learned about the value of leadership.

“I discovered how to lead as a teammate and as a coach and how that can impact those around you. I believe it has helped me dealing both with the Florida players and the other members of the staff,” said Wise.

Although basketball made an impact on Wise, the relationships he formed at Transy helped shape his character. Fellow Transy alumnus Scott Bauman played a huge role in Wise’s life during college, and both are pursuing coaching.

“Scotty and I came into Transy with eight others in our freshmen class. Because of Scotty, I always knew I had more inside of me because I watched him give every ounce of himself everyday,” said Wise. “His support was a major influence on me whenever I was having a tough time with basketball or anything else at Transy.”

Wise also learned lessons outside the court that have been valuable during his time as a Gator.

“The single greatest way Transy prepared me was in the classroom. The program that I am in is extremely competitive and is supposed to be fairly difficult,” said Wise. “My experience, however, has been pretty easy. Not that the program here is a ‘cake walk’ by any means. Rather, I just strongly believe that the way Dr. Poynter, Dr. Hopper, Dr. Fulks, and the rest my professors at Transy pushed me made me more prepared for higher education than I ever could have imagined.”

Wise has been given the opportunity to build on the knowledge he gained at Transy and can see how things are done within another program.

“I will say that being a Gator has helped so much with my knowledge of coaching from Billy Donovan. I do not get to actively engage with Coach Donovan on a daily basis, but the lessons I’ve learned from simply watching him and being around him have made a major impact on me. He is everything right with coaching,” said Wise. “It is just really impressive to be around someone who almost always knows the exact button to push for a player. I am very blessed to be where I am.”

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