“Dream come true” for new Maryland baseball head coach Matt Swope

Just over one week after Maryland baseball saw its 2023 season come to a close, the program opened a new chapter after announcing Matt Swope as the next head coach following Rob Vaughn’s departure for Alabama. The dominos began to fall as Swope picked up a call on Monday morning to meet with Damon Evans about the vacant position.

“It came about fast and just to be honest, when you’re good, this happens when you build a program,” Swope said during Wednesday’s introductory press conference. “When you’re good, this stuff’s gonna happen. And normally it happens fast and this type of business and that’s just kind of part of it. But I’m thankful it worked out the way it did, and I’m also super happy for Rob and, and his family.

With head football coach Mike Locksley and director of recruiting operations Tommy Paolucci, basketball assistant Mike Jones, women’s basketball head coach Brenda Frese and track and field coach Andrew Valmon among those also in attendance, Swope reminisced on his lifelong memories in College Park that all began as he was “born a Terp.”

“I grew up in Riverdale, new Carrolton, and I’ve been coming to this campus since before I can remember. My parents are both Terp graduates and even got married in the chapel on campus. I still remember the first time I stormed the field as a kid at the Maryland football game and all I was thinking was, is my dad gonna get me if one of these guys in the yellow jackets snagged me before I make it out to the field? My dad was a DC cop at the time, so you can understand that.”

The DeMatha grad would go on to become a four-year starter for Maryland and set multiple program records before spending four seasons in the minor leagues. Swope rejoined the Terps as the director of operations back in 2013 before being promoted to assistant coach in 2017, then associate head coach in 2022. “I think I learned most how to be a head coach in those first three or four years so I’m super thankful for Coach Szefc giving me that start,” Swope said.

Now, he becomes the first Maryland baseball head coach to lead his alma mater since Tom Bradley, who ironically recruited Swope back in 1998. “When I came in and interviewed with [Damon], he asked me about the job and I said, ‘this isn’t a job, this is a lifestyle,’ and it’s always been that from the time that I was born,” Swope added. “My relationships with coaches, other players from other teams, this truly is a family.”

The story leading up to today’s moment for Swope gave him another chance to reflect on the program’s development dating back ot when he first wore the uniform to now. “I feel like then when I started, we had no tradition. There was nothing, there was turnover. There was some successful years, even my senior year, we were decent, but we were missing that tradition. There was nothing there. There was nothing for former players or people to come back to or to hold onto. There was nothing there.”

Now, with three consecutive NCAA regionals and consecutive Big Ten championships under their belts, Swope acknowledged the increased fan support that steadily grew alongside the program’s development. “That’s been my sole focus over the course of these 12 years. The winning is great, but to look at Pap over there and to look at Tommy and these guys that played here that wore the jersey like I did, that walk the steps that know the nooks and crannies of the different things, that means the most to me. And when people are proud, like the regional last year when former players and fans and people are proud to come back here and they’re talking about it, that’s what makes me so, so thankful.”

After recognizing assistants Anthony Papio, Erik Bakish and Mike Morrison in attendance, Maryland will look to maintain staff continuity with hopes that standard translates to the field to begin the program’s new chapter.

“Over the last decade, we’ve established a winning culture and an expectation to win with Maryland baseball and that will continue moving forward. When I was able to see this place packed last year while hosting an NCAA regional, I was in tears, literal tears. I could not hold it back and I didn’t care. It was the greatest sight of my life. It’s something that I would’ve never dreamed of decades ago, but that’s the standard that has been set by us and the staff and I look forward to help making that happen again.”

Now that he has the job, Swope will hit the ground running in what he was finally ready to admit—his dream job.

“I was advised from a few of my business counterparts in my interview with [Damon] not to say ‘the dream job’ because it sounds desperate so I said goal instead. But now that [Damon] gave it to me, I can say yes, it’s a dream job. So yes, it’s a dream job. It’s been the goal since day one. Like I said, my heart, my soul is here. I told Damon also in our interview…that early on in my career, my detriment was I’m too passionate. I wanted to fix everything. I wanted to do it all immediately and I just never stopped. So I’ve learned how to do a better job with that over the years. It’s a dream job. It’s a dream come true.”

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