Written By: Gracie Murray (Women's Basketball)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- Mateusz "Matty" Rudak (Augustów, Poland/ Kinsale Community School, Ireland) is a sophomore on the Birmingham-Southern College men's basketball team. Born in Agustów, Poland, he and his family moved to Kinsale, Ireland when he was in the fifth grade. He finished secondary school at Kinsale Community School. Rudak came to the states after graduating to complete a year of prep at Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York. Despite being geographically far from home, Rudak is very family oriented.
"I have a younger brother, Miłosz, age 14," said Rudak. When asked if his younger brother looks up to him, he replied, "yea, but almost not, he is 6-3. We've always been close though. He plays basketball, big-time. Whatever I do he does. I used to be a swimmer, so he swam. Then I changed to basketball and he changed to basketball. I did soccer, he did soccer."
Rudak did not start playing basketball until halfway through his seventh grade year. "Marie Hayes was the woman that put the basketball in my hand," said Rudak. "I had never played before I was 13, when she became my coach at Kinsale. She was my coach for six years. She is still at Kinsale and is my brother's coach now." Rudak had a great relationship with his coach, which ultimately led to the success of the team, winning a national championship.
Rudak's parents are small business owners. "My dad [Józef] builds boats, like offshore fishing boats. 42-feet would be the biggest. My mom [Mariola] owns her own alteration shop in Kinsale. The company she worked for in Poland used to make the upholstery for the boats my dad built. My mom and dad still own their own company called Sewing Marine in Kinsale, where she makes the upholstery for his boats."
For someone of the age of 21, Rudak has an impressive passport. "I have traveled a lot," he said. Other than Poland and Ireland I've been to France, Belgium, England, Whales, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and Luxenberg when I was selected for the Irish national team."
Basketball has taken him many places, but Rudak did not think BSC was going to be one of them. With plans to play Division I basketball here in the states, the summer of his junior year Rudak went to training camp at Davidson College, in North Carolina. Unfortunately, he was injured in camp and was unable to play at Davidson. Little did he know, his plans were about to change for college basketball.
"Billy Thom was the assistant coach at Davidson at the time, but was accepting the head coaching position at Millbrook School in New York the very next year," Rudak noted. "He offered me a full scholarship to come and play." Thom is the son of the current BSC assistant coach Bill Thom. "I knew Ian and spent a lot of time at their house when I was at Millbrook and heard them talk about BSC," he added. "So I came down here so I could still play ball and go to school."
Rudak is a business administration major at BSC and has big fish to fry after he graduates. With plans to go back to Europe, "I want to try to play professional in France," he added. Only 12.2 percent of college men's basketball players make it to the professional level internationally. This is strikingly higher than the 3.8 percent of college men's players that make it into the NBA.
If you could vacation anywhere where would you go?
Cat or dog person?
Who is your favorite sports team?
Chelsea London Football club (soccer) and LA Lakers.
Outside of sports, what's your favorite thing to watch on TV?
Jimmy Fallon and House Hunters.
Who would you drop everything for to go see in concert?
What show would you binge watch on Netflix?
What's on the top of your bucket list?
See the Lakers play in LA.
Favorite room in your house?
One thing you couldn't go a day without?
Baked goods and a glass of milk.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Last book you read?
Marie Hayes -Notebook full of quotes. "There are practice days, game days, and tough days. And they are color coded. So there are random quotes, some from big names like 'Coach K' and some are from her, that pertain to each kind of days. I used to keep that in my locker room."