Track and field standout Matt Deery was remembered Thursday, Aug. 23, as a good teammate and friend who had an infectious smile and impacted the lives of everyone around him.
|The family of Matt Deery with the Princeton Elm, known as the "survivor tree," planted in his memory near High Rise residence hall.|
The Lipscomb community gathered in Collins Alumni Auditorium to celebrate the life of Deery, who died Aug. 1 as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Upper Nazareth Township, Pa. He was honored by his teammates, coaches and university administrators during the service.
Teammate and roommate Nelson Scott said Deery enjoyed brightening the lives of others.
“With his heartfelt smile and his kind words, Matt could make anyone’s day. He loved doing that,” said Scott.
President L. Randolph Lowry told the friends, teammates, family members and others gathered for the service that they will not be alone in their time of need.
“This is about a community. We will walk this journey with you,” he said.
Deery, who would have been a sophomore this fall, was the ideal teammate.
“He was loved and respected by everyone on the team. He pursued excellence with a passion. But he was humble and as concerned with his teammates as he was with himself,” said Bill Taylor, Lipscomb’s track and field head coach. “And, he was as tough as they come. He represented the type of athlete that we try to recruit and the people who make up this team.”
The Phillipsburg, N.J., native became the first track and field athlete in Lipscomb history to earn second-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors at the conference indoor championship this past season with a second-place pole vault of 4.55m (14’11”). He also won a bronze medal in the heptathlon at the meet, setting a school record with 4,889 points.
Record-setting performances continued throughout the outdoor season for Deery, including a school-best 14.86s mark in the 100m hurdles at the A-Sun conference championships. That performance propelled Deery into the 110m finals where he finished second.
This past season, Deery broke five school records, including in the indoor and outdoor pole vault, 60m hurdles, 110m hurdles and the heptathlon. He also earned A-Sun All-Academic honors for his work. He was honored by his teammates and coaches as “Freshman of the Year” and as the “Fightin’ Bison” award recipient — presented to the toughest competitor on the team.
“He had more of an impact on me than I had on him,” said Marcus Evans, graduate assistant for the team who focused on training for the hurdles and sprint events. “He was never afraid to step up to any challenge or to go the extra mile. He was always ready with an ‘I got it, coach.’ He was so selfless and always had a smile that could turn your day around.”
Teammate Taylor Mason said that Deery was the team’s “encouragement, rock and support system.”
“Whenever we were down,” she said, “he was the very first person to pick us back up.”
Deery’s brother, Eric, spoke on behalf of the family.
“Matt genuinely loved all people. He made this world a better place,” he said. “We appreciate the Lipscomb community and the comfort and support they have provided us in our time of need. The Lipscomb family was like none other to Matt.”
During the service, Vice President for Student Development Scott McDowell announced the formation of the Matt Richard Deery Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to a track and field student-athlete each year. He also said that the university planted a Princeton elm — known as the “survivor tree” — near High Rise residence hall, where Deery lived, in his honor.
Scott Sager, vice president for church relations, said that Deery “kicked all the way to the finish line. He crossed the finish line and won the race and finished strong.”