D-line Coach Wears His Emotions On His Sleeves

Nov. 12, 1999


By Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

University of Wyoming defensive line coach Matt Wallerstedt wearshis emotions on his sleeves.

Indeed, it's not uncommon to hear him across the field, yelling at hisplayers. He says things that would make a sailor blush. And he can be brutalon chalkboards or other objects in the locker room that get in his way.

?It's my nature,? Wallerstedt said. ?I grew up under a guy who was a fighterpilot in my father. I was brought up to be very competitive. Be a sportsman,but be very competitive and do your best.?

Emotion is key to coaching the defensive line, Wallerstedt says.?You need a guy who has intensity, is emotional and who will ride those guysevery day,? he said. ?Like I tell my guys, they have the hardest job infootball.

?There is no harder job in football than battling in the trenches. Practiceshad better be hard and I have to make them hard so on Saturday things willcome easy.

?I have always been demanding as a coach. I ride the guys pretty good. Ifthey shut it down in practice, then they don?t play for me because I knowthey'll shut it down in a game.?

When UW coach Dana Dimel assembled his staff in 1997, Wallerstedt was nearthe top of his list. The two had played together at Kansas State in themid-1980s, Wallerstedt at linebacker, Dimel as a junior college transfer tothe offensive line.

Dimel says Wallerstedt is more than pure feelings.?First of all, more than the emotion he brings to the table, he's a detailedcoach,? Dimel said. ?That's the thing I like most about him.

?He's an outstanding recruiter. He has a very good work ethic and maintainsa good relationship with his players. He's not just a hollerer and ascreamer. The kids can really talk to him and relate to him.?UW linemen agree.

?Coach Wallerstedt may get up under our skin and we might hate him for asplit second when he's yelling at us, but when we go home, we know he wasright,? Wyoming senior defensive tackle Jon Mathis said. ?He puts hisintensity into us.

?Once he gets on you, you either do what he says or he'll stay on you. Youeither have to put up or shut up. We put up so he'll shut up.?

Added UW senior noseguard Jason Dreessen, ?He's just a fiery guy. He keepsus going. He's a work horse. He makes us work hard too.

?That's really helped us a lot this season. Whether it?s on the sidelines orin practice, he's always right there to motivate us and keep us focused.?Wallerstedt does have a lighter side. After the Cowboys? 43-29 win againstUtah last weekend, he took off his shirt off in the locker room andparticipated in a celebration dance with his players. He had promised to dothat if the team won.

Uttered a reserve who watched him dance, ?That Wallerstedt is one crazy guy.?

As a player for Kansas State from 1984-87, Wallerstedt was a linebacker whostood around 6-foot and weighed 195 pounds. He was somewhat undersized andslow, yet he was an Honorable Mention All-America pick his senior year, aFirst-Team Academic All-Big 8 selection and led K-State in tackles with 165.It wasn't all roses for him. The K-State teams he played for weren?t good.And when Stan Parish was hired as coach before his junior season,Wallerstedt went from starter to scout-team linebacker during springfootball.

?I had to prove myself all over again,? Wallerstedt said. ?I wanted totransfer to another school. My dad was the one who pushed me to stick itout. He always gave me good advice.

?I've learned if you just keep battling and keep working hard, good thingswill happen.?

Prior to being hired at UW, Wallerstedt was defensive backs coach at Emporia(Kan.) State and defensive line coach at Fort Hays (Kan.) State -- both NCAADivision II schools. He also was a grad assistant coach at Arizona State andKansas State.

?When Dana called me about the possibility of coming here, I had to pull myhead out of the ceiling from jumping so high,? Wallerstedt said. ?Havingplayed Division I and coaching at Division II for so long, I really wantedto get back to this level.

?Everything happens for a reason, and it will all play out if you continueto work hard.?

Wallerstedt says he is more than just a guy who makes noise.?If you want to be a good player, and if you come to Wyoming, you?ll be agood player,? Wallerstedt said. ?I'm going to get it out of you.

?I'm going to coach you hard, but my door is always open for the players. Iam pretty forward and a straight-shooter.?