Up Close With matt Dlugie (IND. '16)
Some sage advice from his father led Evans Scholar Matt Dlugie from the caddyshack at Briarwood Country Club outside Chicago to a courtside seat at Indiana University’s famed Assembly Hall.
After being awarded the Evans Scholarship, Matt, a native of Deerfield, Illinois, arrived in Bloomington with every intention of majoring in secondary education, but as he progressed through the curriculum, he realized education was not his calling.
“I took a few College of Education classes, I realized that the program just wasn’t for me,” said Matt, who will be a junior in the fall. “I kept thinking about something my dad told me all the time growing up, which was that I should try to make a career out of something I enjoyed, something I loved. So, I decided to look into a career involving sports.”
After considering several different majors and programs at Indiana that could lead to a career in sports, Matt formally changed his field of study to sport communications, a program within the university’s School of Public Health.
Matt sought to put his work in the classroom to practical use at WIUX student radio; he joined with no real intention of ever being an on-air personality.
“I came to Indiana with the goal in mind to find a club to join,” Matt said. “In high school, I had always been hesitant to do something ‘out of the norm,’ but that was something I wanted to change. I never really thought about going into radio when I became involved with WIUX. I just saw it as a way to talk about sports with a bunch of other students who enjoyed it as much as I do.”
Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago listening to and watching Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks games, Matt soon succumbed to the pull of broadcasting and found himself doing play-by-play for WIUX and co-hosting a weekly sports talk show.
Within the last year, he has called games for the Indiana men’s and women’s basketball and soccer games and IU baseball. He also called the annual Little 500 bicycle race, a cherished tradition at Indiana that attracts thousands of spectators each year and provided the inspiration for the 1979 film, “Breaking Away.”
Through it all, Matt said he has learned that broadcasting, not unlike many other trades, looks much easier from afar.
“Growing up in Chicago, I listened to some of the best broadcasters in the business, but it’s a lot harder than they make it seem,” he said. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into every show or broadcast, and you need to be able to think quickly on your feet. You need to be able to paint a picture of what is happening for your audience in a matter of seconds. Until you try it, you don’t realize just how difficult it really is.”
Having heeded the advice of his father and put himself on a path toward a career in sports -- he is interning this summer for the Chicago Bears -- Matt couldn’t help but offer his own words of wisdom to another member of his family. His brother, Ethan, applied for and was awarded the Evans Scholarship this year and will attend Northwestern University in the fall.
Prior to Ethan’s scholarship interview, a notoriously nerve-wracking experience for any potential Scholar, Matt offered his little brother a few choice words to keep in mind as he stepped before the Selection Committee.
“I just really wanted to make sure he knew that everyone who would be in the room for his interview was there to see him succeed, which I think helped calm him down,” Matt said. “I was so proud when he was awarded the Scholarship. Having spent so many years waking each other up at 5:30 a.m. and then biking over to the country club, it was terrific for me to have him be a part of such a great program.”
When classes resume in the fall, Matt plans to return to the WIUX, determined to follow his father’s advice of doing something he loves for a living.
“If you want to put yourself in position to be successful in the future, you need to attack everything you do,” he said. “Sports can be a very difficult industry to get into, and just knowing the basics isn’t good enough. Everyone dreams of getting a position with their favorite sports team, so you need to be mindful of that and stay as sharp as possible.”
Did you know?
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT
Matt landed a coveted internship with the Chicago Bears after a chance interaction with head coach Marc Trestman’s daughters, whom he wanted to interview for his blog, “In Trestman We Trust.” Though the girls agreed to be interviewed, their famous father did not approve. “Coach Trestman wasn’t letting the media interview his family at the time, but while speaking with the Bears’ VP of communications, he told me about an internship opportunity with the team during training camp. I applied and was lucky enough to be accepted, and now I will be working with the team in Bourbonnais this summer.”
WHITE SOX FAN ON THE NORTH SIDE
When it came time for Matt to make the all-important decision of whether to root for the Cubs or the White Sox, one member of his family played a particularly prominent role in helping him choose a side in Chicago’s baseball rivalry. “I am a Sox fan, but I never really had a choice,” he said. “When I was 10 years old, I came home wearing a Sammy Sosa T-shirt. When my grandpa saw me, he got upset and told me to take it off immediately. He took it and told me to follow him to the garbage can where he threw it out right in front of me.”
NEARLY NOT A SCHOLAR
Matt came within one conversation of not being a caddie or an Evans Scholar. He was 13 and a seldom-used caddie at Briarwood Country Club; he was at his wit’s end. His father wouldn’t simply let him not show up to work so he arrived at the club one Sunday to inform the caddie manager that he would be quitting. “It was a busy day and there weren’t many caddies there,” he said. “Before I could get a word in, my caddie manager sent me out on a loop. When I got back he told me that the member told him what a great job I did and that he would be sending me out more often. The rest is history. Needless to say, I am very thankful I never had the opportunity to speak with the caddie manager that day.”