By: Arion Armeniakos for The EXPRESS: The Award-winning Student-run Newspaper of Las Positas College
The hype which surrounds the sport of basketball in the United States has the power to leave young players with tunnel vision. Disregarding the future and putting all eggs into one going pro basket is unlikely to work out for most. But unlike most, Hawks’ Matt Roseby has total clarity of what he wants to accomplish on — and most of all — off the court.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Roseby is the Hawks men’s basketball team’s sole inter- national player this season. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches tall, Roseby took advantage of the gift that is his height and got into basketball 12 years ago after discovering that his former sport of swimming was not really for him.
After completing his high school studies back home, he decided that a move stateside would be best for him to continue his development as a player and to pursue a degree in economics. Having traveled around the U.S. over the last year, Roseby’s next chapter is here in the Bay Area — a place in so many ways similar to home, and with standout basketball and academic programs at Las Positas ready to help him continue his athletic and academic progress.
“I really wanted to go somewhere with better weather, somewhere more urban and more like home,” Roseby said of his decision to make the move to Livermore. “The Bay Area is definitely the right fit. And in terms of the athletic program and academics, it was overall the best for me, and fortunately I was able to come here.”
Roseby’s arrival at Las Positas was a little different from the usual recruitment process. After redshirting his first year in the U.S. with stints in Pennsylvania, Mississippi and most recently Kansas, Roseby reached out to head coach James Giacomazzi regarding a potential transfer.
The Sydney native’s skill set at the forward position and his avid activity off the court impressed Giacomazzi, who decided that Roseby was a good fit for what the team and the community needed.
“We saw his application, and we really liked what we saw in terms of academics and the things that he does off the court,” Giacomazzi said. “He does a lot of voluntary work, and we also liked his skill set and what he could bring as a big. There are also just so many things that he reaches out and tries to assist with, and we thought that it would be really good to try to include a person like that into our campus and the community as a whole.”
Roseby is a modern day big man. He is a keen rebounder and a presence inside, but he also takes pride in his ability to step outside the arc. But — on court skills aside — perhaps the most impressive thing about the Hawks forward is his desire to give back and help out in the community.
Roseby has been volunteer- ing since back in his Australia days, and now as part of settling into life in the Bay, he has been helping out at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont.
“I coach and teach over there, and it is something that I definitely enjoy,” Roseby said of his role at CSD. “The program is wonderful, and I think they are underfunded to be honest. They have some really terrific kids there, and a big goal for me this year is to really help them out and try to develop them.”
Roseby noticed a flaw in the funding for schools for the deaf back home. He believes that they don’t get anywhere near the resources they deserve for the work that they do and he brought that desire to help out and make a difference with him to the U.S.
“Right before I left, they came out with this program that stated that deaf kids in schools in Australia were not receiving the same kind of social resources as other people were,” Roseby said. “There wasn’t really anything in place to help them get those resources either. So, coming over here, it was definitely something that I wanted to work with. I was pretty fortunate that everything worked out, and I am happy to have been able to get in touch with the school and help out with things such as basketball.”
Roseby is also passionate about mental health. Having lost a close friend in recent weeks, Roseby writes the date of his passing on his shoes every time he steps on the court to remind him how lucky he is to be alive in moments of despair. And since arriving at Las Positas, Roseby has made it his goal to provide more mental health attention and resources to the student athletes on campus.
“I’m trying to implement some mental health reforms with the athletic department as it is something that’s really important to me,” Roseby said. “When I came here, I noticed that LPC has these great resources and a great framework, but for whatever reason, there is a massive hiatus in terms of that for the student athletes who may be seeking help.
“I feel like it is a pretty dangerous road to go down, and it is something that needs attention. So, I’m really trying to work with some of the school’s vice-presidents, and even the college president, to come on board with it and just try to make it (mental health help) more accessible.”
Roseby’s calm, composed demeanor does not give away the passion and confidence which emerges from him once he steps in between the lines or gets involved with his noble acts outside of the gym. Those can also be deceiving until he starts talking basketball.
The Sydney native has been enjoying settling into a climate that is more similar to what he grew up in — and he feels completely ready to contribute to the team in whatever way is asked of him this season.
“It’s been great out here. I love it,” Roseby said. “The climate and the people are pretty much similar to home, and obviously the team and the school are great itself too. It has been a great experience so far.”
In terms of on court contribution, Roseby is confident that he can be an asset to the team in multiple ways. Versatility is important in his position, and the Australian has shown during camp and scrimmages that he can help on both ends of the floor.
“I don’t think there are many players that are as tall as me that have the kind of shot and overall game as I do,” Roseby said. “With that said, whatever the coach needs me to do in order to help the team be successful — I am happy to do it.”
Roseby got his first official minutes for the Hawks during the Tony Costello Tip-Off Classic, which took place on the first weekend in November. The Hawks came out victorious (2-0), and Roseby found himself coming off the bench as backup to Michael Moore.
Still learning the system and building chemistry with his teammates, Roseby contributed with hard work on the glass (8 rebounds) in his inaugural 20 minutes, while only seeing the floor for six minutes in the conclusive game. This fluctuation in minutes may be the case throughout the season, but Roseby has continuously emphasized being prepared to play whatever role the team needs him in.
“This is the fourth team that I have been with in America and I have played different roles in all of them,” Roseby said. “Sometimes it may be shooting, sometimes it may just be rebounding, but whatever it may be, at the end of the day a game is a game.”
Giacomazzi has openly acknowledged his new big man’s skill set and explained that Roseby offers something different and is an important part of his tight knit 12-man roster.
“Matt is definitely a presence inside and he adds size to our team while also being able to step outside and shoot the ball,” Giacomazzi said. “He adds something different to our team, and we are happy to have him here.
“We only have 12 players on the roster this season, and I feel confident with the group that we have. They all complement each other really well. We always have players ready to come in and contribute. I am confident that with this group we can compete against anyone in the state.”
Roseby has echoed his coaches’ confidence and expressed championship aspirations of his own. The Hawks placed at No. 3 in the state in the CCCAA preseason rankings, and Roseby believes that going all the way may very well be on the cards for his team this season.
“I think we would be selling ourselves short if we didn’t aim for the state championship,” Roseby said. “I don’t think it’s a long shot by any means. We have a ridiculous amount of talent on the team this year, and I think ranking us at No. 3 is a bit harsh to be honest. Obviously, reaching the final four tournament would be huge, but I don’t think we should stop anywhere short of the state championship.”