Now, Petersen is looking to build the same level of success at Mount Pisgah Christian as its new boys’ basketball coach.
It will be the first varsity head boys’ basketball coaching position for Petersen, who served as a varsity assistant and head JV coach at Whitefield from 2004 to 2013 and was the school’s girls’ head coach from 2001 to 2003.
“The next progression for me in my career was to take on a program and try to take that challenge on and build a successful program based on the experience that I got at Whitefield and Pisgah definitely provides that opportunity,” Petersen said. “It’s up and coming and it has a great athletic director [Blake Davenport], a great headmaster in John Marshall and the opportunity presented itself there, so I’m very excited about it.”
Davenport expressed his excitement about the arrival of Petersen at Mount Pisgah.
“Matt Petersen comes from a great basketball program at Whitefield – a program that has developed into a powerhouse by focusing on the same ‘College Prep, Life Ready,’ foundation we strive to achieve here at Pisgah. Matt’s experience in athletics is broad. But what he brings to Pisgah’s entire community is a package that will be a blessing to us all for many years to come.”
Whitefield boys’ basketball coach Tyrone Johnson expressed his excitement for his long-time colleague’s opportunity at Pisgah.
“I congratulate him and I like to congratulate him publically, because it was definitely an achievement to leave our program and get a chance to be a coach at a very good school,” Johnson said. “Secondly, for Matt, I thoroughly enjoyed our relationship. Not just from a coaching standpoint, but in terms of just pure fellowship that we enjoyed among ourselves. We had a very, very close relationship the last 13 years and we had a great time.”
Petersen inherits a Mount Pisgah team that went 15-9 and lost to Holy Innocents’ in the first round of the Class A private school state boys’ basketball playoffs.
It will be an experienced, veteran group that Petersen will coach in his first year, with a lineup consisting primarily of upperclassmen.
“We’ve got four seniors back and we’ve got five or six juniors, so we’re going to have an experienced team,” Petersen said. “Coaching against this team when I was at Whitefield, they beat Whitefield at Whitefield two seasons ago and it is this same group, so being able to coach them is a great opportunity. Obviously, they have a lot more experience under their belts now. We have a great group of young kids coming up – two or three freshmen who have been working hard this summer and will be able to contribute right away. So, I think we’ll be a deep team. We’ll be able to play nine or 10 guys, which is nice.”
Petersen got his coaching experience in a Whitefield program that has been perennial contender in Class A for more than a decade and won state championship in 2009 and 2012 under the guidance of Johnson.
“Coach Johnson, we came in at the same time at Whitefield,” Petersen said. “We’re more than just coaches, we’re really good friends. What I pull from him as a coach is that he puts his faith and family first above anything and that is a great model for his players. He has a great basketball mind. He probably leans more towards the defensive side of the ball and he is a great team manager. So, being able to learn under him has been a great experience for me. More than anything, it’s not just about basketball. It’s about the relationships he built with the families in the community.
“So it’s more than just about basketball. It’s about taking these young men and turning them into real men, men of God. Tyrone has done a real good job at that and is a great role model for the community and I would like to mimic a lot of those things at Pisgah and in the Pisgah community.”
Johnson said Petersen will be able to do just that.
“A big component of coaching is the way you relate to young men and young women, if you are coaching ladies, and Matt has an outstanding rapport with his kids,” Johnson said. “He sincerely loves them and he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to make sure he puts them in good positions.”
Whitefield – last season’s Class A private school runner-up -- will be among the tough challenges that Petersen and his Pisgah squad faces in a competitive Region 6A that also includes defending Class A private school state champion St. Francis and perennial state powerhouse North Cobb Christian.
“We play in a very tough region – probably the toughest region in Class A,” Petersen said. “You’re going up against good competition every night. You’ve got St. Francis. You’ve got Whitefield. You’ve got North Cobb Christian. You’ve got a lot of teams that have been successful. I look forward to the challenge and getting this team ready to be competitive.”