FNF: Touchdowns and traffic stops: The two worlds of one Battle coach
COLUMBIA - Coaching youth football can be a lot like enforcing the law. Many times you're dealing with people who do the exact opposite thing you want them to do, and your patience is crucial. These two endeavors are just an everyday reality for Matt Morice.
By night, Morice coaches the Battle High School freshman football team and acts as an assistant on the varsity squad.
However, by day, Morice can be found on the highways of Missouri as a Highway Patrol Sergeant, with his coworker, Rocky the German Shepherd.
"Being the K-9 guy, I'm on call 24/7 for the entire Troop F region, which is 13 counties," Morice said. "I like the trooper aspect of the job for the community service portion. The safety aspect of helping others. I get more enjoyment out of that than writing tickets and stuff like that."
Morice has been with the highway patrol for nearly 12 years and with Rocky (who is expected to retire in the spring) for eight of those years.
While he protects and serves mid-Missouri in his day job, Morice said his work on the football field is just another way to give back to the community.
"For me, it's taking something that I know and enjoy and trying to better the community I serve," Morice said. "The [MSHP] motto is 'service and protection,' and the service for me is doing stuff for the community like coaching here at Battle."
Morice's commitment to both of his jobs does not go unnoticed from his players and fellow coaches.
"I think it says a lot. I think he cares about this program, a lot about us and what we have in store for our future," freshman safety Blake Ramey said.
"It was a little shocking. I didn't think somebody would have time for all of that, but it's wonderful that he does," freshman defensive back Trevonne Hicks said. "I feel like it shows his character and his personality that he's willing to give up his free time with his son to be out here making us better."
"It speaks of his character and shows how much he cares about his community," Battle varsity head coach Justin Conyers said. "Guys like him are guys that we need in our community. He really does a great job of developing character in those kids, and that shows from him being a highway patrolman."
Morice said the change of pace from the world of law enforcement to the world of football can be therapeutic.
"The kids have a great attitude and make it fun to be out here," Morice said. "It's also somewhat of a stress relief for me. It's a different avenue, a different approach to coming out and doing something I enjoy to try to better the community in a that aspect."
Aside from teaching the players X's and O's, Morice said he tries to leave them with something bigger than just the game.
"I hope the kids learn more than something than just football," Morice said. "I try to bring life experiences, not necessarily what I do in my day job, but experiences that will help them grow into adults, help them see the bigger picture than just playing football."