LINDSIDE (WVDN) – Matt Sauvage has always made a name for himself around Greenbrier and Monroe counties. Now, he really has garnered the attention not only of those two counties, but the entire state as well.
Sauvage just recently led his James Monroe High School boys’ basketball team to a perfect 28-0 season (although Sauvage says, “with an asterisk”) and a state championship win over Greater Beckley Christian 72-47 for the program’s first ever state title trophy.
Also the volleyball coach for the highly successful Greenbrier East program, Sauvage started to take notice of his basketball team’s chances after the first few games of the season, and as it continued forward, things got a little more serious.
“We knew at the beginning of the season we had a good team. You never know how good until you start playing. Each game that was won, the confidence of the players and coaches grew. About half the way through the season it became expectation,” Sauvage said.
One of the key players on the roster was none other than Sauvage’s son, Shad. Shad was a huge reason the Mavericks ran away with the championship game early thanks in large part to his 23-point performance, including 5-of-8 from three-point range.
However, when his career started, there were some growing pains for the coach and his son.
“His freshman year there was an adjustment period to learn how to separate dad and coach. I was probably harder on him than the rest of the players. But when we left the gym, I became Dad. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be able to coach him and watch him succeed at such a high level,” Coach Sauvage said.
Eli Allen also was a leader for the team and possesses extreme talent. Sauvage said Allen, son of a former West Virginia University football player and Major League baseball player, was a joy to coach and to just sit back and watch as well.
“Eli is a special player,” Sauvage stated.
“Shad and Eli are able to feed off each other. Eli can get it done on both ends of the floor. He is a very good defensive player and, combine that with his ability to score, rebound and pass the ball, and you have a very unique player. They make coaching a lot easier,” he continued.
While describing the feeling of actually being the best team in the state from start-to-finish, Sauvage just wanted to embrace the moments to their fullest.
“It was kind of surreal. I was just trying to enjoy every moment and make sure that the players were enjoying every moment of the ride. Amazing doesn’t seem to describe the feeling. Whatever tops amazing is how I was and am feeling,” Sauvage explained.
Now that basketball has come to a close, Sauvage can take some time for himself and his family before preparing for volleyball at Greenbrier East where his daughter Dia plays.
The Mavericks and Spartans are semi-rivals, so Sauvage does take some fun ribbing for being connected to both schools, but according to him, it’s good hearted.
“It’s a lot of fun. Both sides have a lot of jokes for me in good fun, but both schools honestly support me 100 percent. It’s really awesome to have the kind of support as a coach,” Sauvage said.
With the saying “so much to do and so little time to do it” affecting the life of Sauvage every day, he still plans on the same routine next season, and that includes being back on the James Monroe sideline.
“You never know where life can take you, but my plan is to come back next year,” Sauvage concluded.