Malibu Sports Spotlight: Matt Kalish, director of Athletics Facilities, Pepperdine University

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Matt Kalish

This fall, Matt Kalish begins his fourth year as the director of athletics facilities at Pepperdine University. In this position, he oversees the preparation of all sporting venues on campus for the basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, tennis and water polo programs. To keep track of it all, Kalish supervises more than 50 student workers who assist with game-day operations.

Born in Ohio, Kalish moved around the country with his family, living in Pennsylvania, New York and Georgia, with a stop in Jamaica as well, before settling in Malibu in July of 1993. He has been an active member of the Malibu community ever since.

From 1993-2010, Kalish worked at the famous Malibu Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off. He graduated from Malibu High School in 1997 and enrolled at Pepperdine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and added a master’s degree in American Studies last December.

Kalish has served as a deacon at the Malibu Presbyterian Church, which his family joined in 1993. He and his wife, Crystal, were married there in 2003 and are the parents of 3-month-old Grant Quincy. Now a resident of Newbury Park, Kalish has called Pepperdine home for many years, first as a student and now as an employee.

The Malibu Times caught up with Kalish as he prepares for another year of the Waves’ athletics facilities.

What are your job responsibilities as the director of athletics facilities?

To keep the facilities safe, clean and operational. I have to keep track of what’s going on with athletic events here on campus. I help with scheduling. I work with the coaches to make sure they have the assistance they need to prepare for practices and competitions. I set up the venues for competition and take down when they are over. I oversee the student staff that helps us. There is a sense of ownership in what we do. I take pride in the job that I do.

Talk about your time at Pepperdine as a student and now as an employee?

When I graduated from Malibu High School, I looked at a lot of UC (University of California) schools and wanted to stay in California. When the opportunity arose to come to Pepperdine, I took it. Why leave? I love the community and love being here.

Before I worked in athletics, I worked for the recreation department here at Pepperdine for six years. A few years ago I found out there would be a new position. I always told [former Pepperdine Athletic Director] John Watson and [current Associate Director of Athletics] David Rhoades that if the right thing ever came up, I would come over. And it did in September of 2008. It’s been great. I love what I do and I can’t see myself doing anything else right now.

This is a good place to be. It’s a good place to work. I’m looking forward to having Grant come to games and be here.

How is it to work with the coaches and student-athletes here at Pepperdine?

I love it. I love working with this age group of athletes. College was a time in my life when people took chances on me and took an opportunity to imprint on my life. That changed who I am and made me a better person. I want to be able to give back to that age group. I love working with students. It’s a joy for me.

To be a college coach you need to have a competitive streak in you somewhere. It just makes it fun to work with them. The coaches here are smart and they are motivated. I enjoy my interaction with them.

Talk about the excitement of game day for you here on the Pepperdine campus.

There is something about the energy of getting ready. There is something about knowing when our athletes step out onto the court, field or pool for competition. When they take their step out there, I don’t want them to have to think about the stuff I did. It should be done so they can just go do what they do. I do what I do, so they can do what they do. Same with the coaches.

What makes this job special that people don’t realize?

It’s when I see an athlete go out there and succeed at something that I know they were working hard on. Watching an athlete go out and do something that is important to them. I get to see the players in practice and when they are out of practice as well. I can see the frustration in some of them with a part of their skill that they need to work on. For example, a free throw for a basketball player or a volleyball player who wants to get better at serving. I get to see them practice those things individually outside of their set practice time. When they succeed at it in competition, it’s really cool to see.