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Coaching In The Inner City

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Iraq war veteran, Mathieu DePaula, began coaching in one of North Miami’s toughest areas in 2008. DePaula began coaching to make a difference in his community. He wanted to break the stigma that success doesn’t come from the inner city; and to also contribute to the success of the youth.

Every week day morning after his night shift job, DePaula personally picks up each athlete from their home and head to the local high school gym for practice. Over the Summer DePaula and his co- coach JP have worked hard to  create a strong support system and prepare the young athletes for the upcoming season.


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Mathieu Depaula pictured after a volleyball meet before being deployed to Iraq in 2009.

When asked about their coach, the team had nothing but nice things to say about DePaula. “I feel like Matt is an awesome coach, not only a coach but also a father figure to all of us. He motivates us & pushes us to be the best student athletes that we can be. He also gives great advice even though sometimes I’d ask myself if he’s okay. But overall Matt is someone you can always count on when you have no one to talk to, no matter the place, no matter the time, he’s always one call away”, stated Pierre.

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“Matt is a coach that every team needs , someone to push them and make them go somewhere they never thought they can go or do. Matt will take you out of your comfort zone and make you a better person and athlete even though sometime he can get us mad making us run sprints until 11 but at the end of the he is making us better than we thought we could be”, stated Daniel.

DePaula traveled over 439 miles from Miami, FL to Valdosta, GA so the team could participate in a volleyball training camp to sharpen their skills on the volleyball court and to grasp the attention of some of the college coaches. 

Valdosta State University Volleyball Camp

“Our goal this year is to make it to state championships and get these girls a college offer”, DePaula stated.

DePaula’s team, the North Miami High Pioneers, are set to play, Dr. Michael Krop, for the first game of the season this August. 

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