Prisk to receive Hall of Fame plaque tonight
TRAVERSE CITY — Matt Prisk says it's the last hurrah.
One year after he was enshrined into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and more than six years after he stepped down as the first football coach in Traverse City West history, Prisk will be honored for being a part of the 2012 induction class when he receives his plaque before tonight's TC Central-TC West varsity boys basketball game.
The plaque has been hanging at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor since the induction ceremony last March, but it's being taken down to make room for the new hall of fame class and now it's being presented to Prisk.
"Our Michigan High School Football Coaches Association, we try to recognize all the inductees in a public setting. I'm a past president of the association and one of Matt's best friends so I feel very honored to come up and present it to him," said Dave Larkin, a longtime gridiron coach in the state who is now an assistant at Grand Haven. "He had a phenomenal record when he was coaching and is very deserving to be in the Hall of Fame."
Over 26 years as a football coach, including 16 as a head coach, Prisk compiled a 173-72-1 record. In his 11 years leading West, Prisk went 71-35.
"It's a very, very humbling experience," Prisk said of the honor. "You feel lucky to have been able to coach for 26 years and to be a head coach for 16 years. It takes the support of an awful lot of people. I have a very loving and patient family and I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of great men and kids."
One person that Prisk worked with was Jerry Angers, the head coach at Glen Lake and Prisk's defensive coordinator at West for each of the 11 years he was at the school. Angers says Prisk was a very influential figure on him.
"Anytime you think of a head coach who won over 70 percent of his games, never had a losing season, put many kids at the next level, speaks highly of what a great man and great coach Matt Prisk was," said Angers. "He's my idol, my role model. Between him and (former Glen Lake coach) Bill Hollenbeck, those are two of the guys who hopefully I can coach as well as some day."
Prisk also coached at North Farmington and Houghton Lake before coming to Traverse City to start West's program from scratch.
"I was very, very fortunate to be part of a unique situation when you split a high school and start a high school program from the ground up," said Prisk. "I was real fortunate to have worked with some awesome people. Waldo Keating was the AD at West at that time. He and Joe Tibaldi were very gracious and helpful in helping me get the program going. I had some amazing assistants. Jerry Angers is the head coach at Glen Lake now, Dan Rosenberg is Jerry's offensive coordinator, Jason Leonard, who is the head coach at Kingsley now. Then Tom Brown, also. Tom is the only one that's still coaching at West that was on the original staff. Those guys were outstanding people to work with. That's really what my career was all about. I worked with a lot of great people."
Prisk won seven Big North Conference championships in his 11 years at West and reached the postseason six times. The Titans finally got to the playoffs in 2002 and that started a string of six straight playoff runs. The 2004 team was Prisk's best, going 10-1 overall and beating East Kentwood 27-23 for the only playoff win in school history. Prisk earned the Class A Regional Coach of the Year Award that season. He also was a three-time winner of the Steve Spicer Leadership Award, an award that Angers and his squad won this season.
"Wins and losses were great, but Matt saw the bigger picture in developing better fathers, better sons and better husbands," said Angers.
Prisk stepped down in 2007 to spend more time with his wife and two daughters. Because he's still enjoying that aspect of life, he can't say if he'll ever get the urge to go back to coaching.
"I'm so involved doing things with my family that I wasn't able to do when I was coaching," said Prisk. "It was a great run. We had a lot of success, had a lot of fun. It's hard to say if I'll get the itch (to coach). There's a lot of offers from a lot of very kind people that ask every fall. Right now I'm pretty happy just being a dad and being a family guy."