A dodgeball class by Matt Paul Sports.

A dodgeball class by Matt Paul Sports.

by Paula M. Riley

The name of the company has changed but the core philosophies have not. “Rule number one is fun, and rule number two is to try our best,” said Matt Paul, owner of Matt Paul Sports. “These have always been our focus.”

Paul established Matt Paul Basketball as an instructional organization for boys and girls to learn the fundamentals of basketball in a positive, encouraging setting in 2005. His offerings included after-school programs, evening clinics, summer camps, individual training, birthday parties and charity events.

Today, Matt Paul Sports offers basketball, flag football, lacrosse, soccer and tennis programs serving the Philadelphia and Montgomery County areas.

Customers now attend programs in Blue Bell, Center City and Wayne in addition to the company’s flagship location in Chestnut Hill. Children choose from Rookie Ball, Fun and Fundamentals, or Advanced Training based on their age and skill level.

Although MPSports has grown to over three thousand customers, the core values of the programs have not changed.

“These are the lessons taught through sports – courage, determination, respect, sportsmanship, and teamwork,” Paul said. “Every MPSports program involves discussion and reflection on these values, while teaching the fundamentals of the sports.”

Known for his blue Suburban decorated with orange basketball magnets, Paul has become a celebrity in Chestnut Hill. A tall, energetic, 30-something, Paul is recognized by his trademark sweats and polo shirt and the big smile that never seems to leave his face.

Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, Paul was determined to play professional basketball. Even though those closest to him doubted his abilities to play pro ball, he never let go of his dream. He knew that somehow, some way, he would fulfill his plans.

He attended Chestnut Hill Academy and later went on to the University of Pennsylvania. After college, Paul fulfilled his dream and played professionally in Germany. However, after just six months, he sustained a career ending knee injury.

Paul’s focus and determination to follow his dream is incorporated into his company’s core philosophy. Matt Paul Sports is more about developing as a person than it is about developing as a player.

With the new company names comes a tagline – “Building confident kids”.

“Through the years, we have found the most important in-game ingredient is confidence.” Paul said. “When kids feel prepared to play and have the right mindset, their possibilities are endless.”

“A small percentage of players will go on and play high school sports, let alone professional sports,” Paul said. “But all of them will enter the real world at some point. As they follow their dreams, we believe our core principles serve as fundamentals for life as well. All players need to learn how to believe in themselves, to overcome obstacles, to work well with others.”

Part of the expanded MPSports includes programs for children ages 4-5 called “Rookie Ball.” Held mostly on weekend mornings, these sessions introduce them to soccer or basketball fundamentals.

“The shift to MP Sports has opened up to a whole realm of possibilities,” Paul said. “We want to grow and want to serve kids and their parents. We believe that we are simply a part of the village equation.”

MPSports is most excited about its summer camp 2014 expanded offering at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. While Paul expects Matt Paul Basketball to be the most popular offering, players will be able to choose from flag football, soccer, softball, field hockey and lacrosse clinics and games within each camp. Each program will continue to be led by an experienced and trained coaching staff committed to the experience of every child.

Perhaps the key to Matt Paul’s success is his commitment to self-improvement. He is always seeking out ways to become a better person, better coach and a better business owner.

“I have learned a ton since my first clinic in 2005. I know that every day is a challenge, an opportunity to grow, to transform and influence those around us,” Paul said.

Reflecting on the company’s program expansion, Paul believes that adding new sports has opened up a whole new way of thinking for him. It has forced him to find and recruit the right people with the right mindset to build his own team of coaches. Former high school and college athletes and coach are trained in the “Matt Paul way” and are asked to lead programs utilizing their talents and skill sets.

Paul’s approach models what his favorite coach and father taught Paul about the importance of teamwork, “It takes a village.”

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