Shooting from the Hip with Matt Lovejoy
Redshirt Junior defenseman Matt Lovejoy is now the most experienced of the defense poles after the graduation of Ken Clausen and Ryan Nizolek. The Orford, N.H., native recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss what UVa needs to do to be succussful in 2011, the family atmosphere of his teammates and some of his favorites things in Charlottesville.
Question: UVa has started the season 2-0, what will you guys need to do to continue to be successful?
Lovejoy: It’s going to start with our midfield. We are older and we’ve got a lot of depth with the middies starting from the fourth-years down to the first-years, we have a lot of athletes and that’s where we are going to dominate. It’s also going to start with ground balls and doing the little things.
Question: Is the offseason difficult waiting to get back on the field?
Lovejoy: The offseason is tough after high school where you are playing other sports and anticipating the next season. The offseason in college can be long. You are chomping at the bit. You’re ready and you can’t wait for it. You get a little taste in the scrimmages. You hope that you can be productive in the offseason and come back healthy, stronger, faster, and ready to go.
Question: Your older brother is in the NHL – how well does he follow your career here?
Lovejoy: My older brother plays for the Pittsburgh Pennguins – he and his teammates and buddies have our games on in the locker room. When I’m up there they’re like ‘oh that was crazy.’ And you’re like sitting there while these professional athletes are talking like that. You’re like ‘whoa.’
Question: Now that we mentioned your older brother Ben – he was a successful lacrosse and hockey player at Dartmouth and now he is in the NHL. What have you taken from him and his experiences?
Lovejoy: He is a role model first and foremost. I am very into my preparation, from what I eat to stretching, and he is a big influence on that. I think the guys on the team kid me a little about some of the extra preparation. He has taught me to do everything you can before and after games to be prepared as much as possible. I think the best advice he has given to me is, “you go to the University of Virginia, you have great people around you, and you do not have to win every game yourself. Just do your job.” – That is a Bill Belichick line, “Just do your job” – we are big New England Patriot fans. I have seen from my brother what it takes to compete at the highest level, and he has set an example for me.
Question: Coming to UVa from an athletic family with two brothers, have you been able to find a similar family atmosphere at Virginia?
Lovejoy: We are a really close-knit team. Our recruiting class, the fourth-years, and the whole team in general – we’ve been through a lot together. We have smiled and laughed and we’ve also cried and hugged. We’ve had some really high highs and some really low lows on and off the field. The biggest thing is that we might not remember the games, the practices and stuff, but we will remember how we’ve been there for each other and how we used what we were feeling emotionally. It wouldn’t have been possible. It’s really a brotherhood and a family with the support that everyone has for one another. You might get mad at one another, might get mad, might bicker and go back and forth but through thick and thin this has been an experience I couldn’t have imagined. I’ll leave here with 40 brothers.
Question: Now to have a little fun – we are going to talk about some of your favorites. What’s your favorite spot on grounds?
Lovejoy: I had a lot of fun in the old dorms. That was probably it. But UVa has really beautiful Grounds and the lawn and the rotunda are pretty cool.
Question: Do you have a favorite food?
Lovejoy: I’m a big grilled chicken guy. I’m kind of a health freak.
Question: What do you do to you prepare before each game?
Lovejoy: I don’t believe in superstitions but I’m very routine and I do the same thing before every game as my teammates would say.
Question: What is the one thing the guys on the team kid you about that you can’t help but laugh in agreement?
Lovejoy: I am pretty flexible and can pretty much do a full split, so when people give me a hard time about that – there is not much I can say in defense. I also do Bikram/Hot Yogo in a 110-degree room – you really can’t defend yourself there.
Question: What is your favorite UVa lacrosse memory?
Lovejoy: Probably winning ACCs last year. Beating Duke and Maryland over a weekend was a good feeling. We want to keep working hard and when you ask me this question when my career is over, I want to have a different answer for you [smiling].