There is a photograph, treasured by the grandfather, that illustrates better than any graduation declaration or long-ago journal entry just how preordained was the path of the grandson.
Ed Pepple was coaching at Mercer Island High School, as he had forever – didn’t he greet the Mercer brothers with a whistle and ball when they first rowed ashore? – and was conducting one of his annual parent orientation nights. Matt Logie, his grandson, was 5.
“I’m telling them, ‘Don’t wash the maroon uniforms with the white uniforms because we get what? Right, pink uniforms,’ ” Pepple recalled, “and in the picture he’s about a foot away, baseball hat on, hands on his hips, this look on his face like he’s just waiting to put his two cents in.”
Those two cents are finally legal tender, now that Whitworth University has made Logie its 18th men’s basketball coach.
It’s a life-altering moment for Logie – a move back to his native Northwest from Lehigh University, a downshift from the NCAA Division I ranks to Division III and, biggest of all, about an 18-inch move along the bench to the head coach’s seat.
But as he told Pirates athletic director Warren Friedrichs, “Now maybe they’ll listen to my suggestions.”
It’s hard to know what the coach’s best friend is – a sure-thing out-of-bounds play, an inspirational nugget or a self-deprecating line.
Matt Logie is 30, looks younger and, the guess is, coaches older. Which would make sense, seeing as it’s likely the first letters of the alphabet he mastered were X and O.
“As long as I can remember, and maybe before I can remember, I wanted to be a coach,” he said. “I’m not sure when you can first figure out how that mission gets accomplished or how it comes together, but I know it was a very young age.”
And this is almost exclusively because of his grandfather’s influence.
Pepple is the all-time winningest coach in Washington, about a kajillion ahead of No. 2, occasionally a polarizing figure but also an unrivaled force for the growth of the game in the state. Logie didn’t just tag along to practice as a kid, he eventually played for Pepple at MI, wearing the maroon blazer to games and soaking up the bromides and fundamentals and, simply, “the impact a coach could have on young people.”
Though the impact for him was undeniably different.
“There are lots of father-son examples in coaching and playing,” Logie said, “but I think grandfather-grandson has another dynamic. Sons are probably accustomed to fathers challenging and disciplining them.
“Your grandparents pretty much always give you what you want, but that wasn’t the case when it came to basketball. He pushed me and had expectation levels for me that were even higher than for the rest of our program, and allowed me to set them high for myself.”
His Islanders teams won state championships in 1997 and 1999. The latter team sent five players to Division I programs, with Logie winding up at Lehigh in the first Patriot League class to receive athletic scholarships. He finished No. 8 on the school’s career scoring list, and immediately got on the coaching track at his alma mater.
But Lehigh was no MI. In the decade ending with Logie’s junior year, the Mountain Hawks won all of 82 games. Then coach Billy Taylor arrived and took a 5-23 team to 16-12 with the same faces, and a year after that had Lehigh in the NCAA tournament. After a year’s detour to Kent State, he returned to help Taylor’s successor, Brett Reed, get Lehigh back to the bracket in 2010. If it seems odd to turn in the Big Dance thrills for a spin around D-III’s mixer, it doesn’t to Logie.
“Growing in this profession, one of the things that became apparent to me was my niche – it seemed to be with high-caliber academic institutions,” he said. “Secondly, you want to align yourself with people who support the mission and goals of the program. Whitworth jumped off the page in that regard.”
The record of late amassed by his predecessor, Jim Hayford – who set off for new challenges of his own at Eastern Washington – jumps off the page, too. Logie is undaunted at the notion of building on that, nothing at his introduction that “tradition doesn’t graduate.”
“The thing I was looking for the most if I was going to become a head coach was the opportunity to be successful,” he said. “It didn’t matter what level – I want to be a part of a program that can win championships and do it at a place that values academics. This is that place.”
And he’s just waiting to put his two cents in.
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