October 19, 2022
Profile of Carl Mattox ’17, M.M. ‘18
What drew you to Mars Hill as an undergrad?
Football played a huge role in my choosing of Mars Hill University. I attended the same high school as former MHU quarterback Jon Richt (class of 2013) and that connection led to me eventually attending a visit at Mars Hill. A high school teammate of mine, Tyler Parrish (class of 2017) was on campus at the same time for freshman orientation. Little did I know we would eventually be roommates that upcoming spring semester. I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me to maximize my experience as a student-athlete while also preparing me for life and a career after college. I really didn’t know much about the western Carolina mountains, but it was far enough away from home for me to feel like I was being independent while still being close enough to drive home when needed. The coaching staff made it clear that I was going to get a fair shot at playing time so I thought all in all I could build a promising college career at MHU.
What was your favorite thing about your Mars Hill undergrad experience?
It was not walking up a snowy Turner Hill after 6:00 am workouts! Those walks will challenge anyone. I had a lot of great experiences at The Hill. However, my favorite was probably getting to know so many people during my five years. By the time I graduated, I felt like I knew every single person on campus. MHU allowed me to meet people from many places that taught me a lot of lessons and provided some of the best memories. The other part that I enjoyed was being a student-athlete. From start to finish that experience shaped me more than I could ever describe. I think about the games and practice nearly every day.
Why did you decide to get further education?
As I was nearing graduation, my advisor, Grainger Caudle, mentioned the possibility of MHU starting the [Master of] Management program and suggested I think about applying. I knew that a graduate degree would be valuable, but I was unsure sure if I wanted to take that route myself. Once I started pursuing the idea, many people helped me understand what a great opportunity it was. During this time, I was working for former MHU President Dan Lunsford as a Snelson scholar recipient. During this internship, Dr. Lunsford showed me what a great leader looks like and gave me the confidence to want the same for myself. A master’s degree was something I felt would help me achieve that. In addition, I spoke with former Mars Hill softball coach and administrator Monica Gordy-Polizzi and she connected me with a scholarship opportunity with the Carolina Panthers. She also helped me apply, and during graduation practice in 2017, I got an email telling me that I received the scholarship. All of these factors made it easy to make the decision to stay at the Hill.
How did Mars Hill help shape you, both personally and professionally?
MHU did so much for me in the span of five years, both personally and professionally. Personally, MHU was where I met a lot of my friends. Being on the football team, I was instantly thrown into the busy world of college athletics and academics all at once. I was lucky that a couple of older teammates of mine stressed the importance of going to the library every night, whether I was tired or had a lot of homework or not. This advice taught me a lot about consistency. I can’t stress enough how important consistency has been in my life and career. Even when things get difficult with work, I lean on the good habits I have developed through consistency to weather the storm.
Also during this time my coaches put a lot of effort into helping me. Each in their own way, all of my coaches at Mars Hill did whatever they could to help me to develop me as an athlete, a man, and a professional. From teaching me how to play a new position to helping me get through the death of my grandmother during my freshman year, they all took the time to make sure I had the tools to be successful.
At a professional level, a lot of doors and opportunities opened through Mars Hill that I could have never expected at another university. I was given the chance to volunteer with the Southern Conference as a part of the M.M. program. After I graduated, I was offered a yearlong internship with the conference, and this set my career into motion.
MHU showed me what I was capable of. Before starting the MM program, I was nervous about the difficulty of a graduate degree. After the program, I had enough confidence to pursue my M.B.A. from Valdosta State University. The M.M. program taught me a lot of skills that I use to this day, including “soft skills” like how to conduct myself in a group project. As much as I hated group projects as a student, working in athletics is ultimately a big group project with your coworkers. The M.M. program did a great job of simulating real work relationships and teaching me how to get things done.
And—as much as I resisted—the program taught me the value of reading. It never fails -when you meet someone smart, they read a lot. Continued education as an adult is important to stay competitive with the rest of the world. My time at Mars Hill really showed me a lot, and I’m forever grateful to the administrators, professors, and coaches on that campus.”
Describe your job: what do you actually do?
My title is Assistant Director of Championships for the Sun Belt Conference. In this role, I help with the planning and operations of all Sun Belt Conference Championship games and tournaments. This includes everything from securing and branding venues, to working with host locations to make sure we provide the best possible experience for student-athletes, coaches, and fans. In this role, I also help with sport administration.
What are your future goals? Do you want to continue in this line of work?
That’s a really good question. I wish I had a specific answer for you, but I’m still not sure. I’m certain I want to continue in college athletics or professional sports. I would love to be in a leadership role of some sort in the future. As a former student-athlete, I would love to help others have a similar experience that I was fortunate enough to have.
What advice would you give to students who are at Mars Hill now?
Do not be afraid to take advantage of the opportunities you have. The Hill is a great chance for you to gain experience in a lot of ways. If you have a passion for working in athletics, you can volunteer with the athletic department and get real-world experience. This doesn’t only apply to sports, but to whatever your passion is. Find someone on campus in that area and offer your help. As long as you work hard, people at the Hill will provide you with the chance to be successful.
The other thing I would suggest is to find someone that has the job you want and reach out to them. People like to talk about themselves; that is why I’m talking about myself right now. Take advantage of this and soak up the knowledge those people can offer. With LinkedIn, I find it really easy to find potential role models anywhere in life. Also, ask your professors if they know anyone that does what you want to do and if they would be willing to connect you with them. Just in the five years I was on campus, I met so many people that are successful in a number of ways–not just in athletics. I know professional athletes, healthcare administrators, engineers, coaches, people in the music industry, and very successful entrepreneurs. These people who were once teammates, roommates, and classmates are now leaders in their respective fields. Your professors know these people personally and would love to help you.