Matthew Cantor, basketball and volleyball captain, talks athletic career and recruitment process


Chayti Biswas

Senior Matthew Cantor, captain of the Boys Varsity Volleyball Team

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Former center of the Townsend Harris Boys Varsity basketball team and outside hitter of the Boys Varsity Volleyball team, Matthew Cantor has played a key role in both teams, through his four years at THHS. His role as captain on each team has led to extremely successful seasons, and has left a huge impact on not only his coaches, but his teammates as well. 

Matthew Cantor only recently started to play volleyball. Nevertheless, teammate Carl Michael Quimba Go said. “He’s a really good leader, the entire team looks up to him, not only because of his athleticism but also because of how well he knows the game and is able to adapt when going against a new team, ” he said. Matthew is a successful outside hitter, as he was the lead attacker in offensive strategies, receives serves, and digs the other team’s hits. 

Unfortunately, a month after the start of the season, Matthew sprained his ankle, which “shook the team” according to Carl. His injury set the team back, as Matthew played a vital role towards the team’s success. Coach Elvis Haniff comments, “When Matt was injured, the team felt his absence. Matt was with us for a month. In that month, we were together six days a week, a minimum of three hours each day. That much time coupled with Matt’s character, he was able to have an impact that lasted even after he was injured.” 

Nonetheless, his injury isn’t too serious, as he will be able to continue with his basketball recruitment to Caltech, one of the most prestigious schools for what he wants to study. “I am very grateful I don’t need surgery and it is not so severe that it will affect anything going into college. If anything, I am inspired to work harder and train harder over the summer to get back to the level I  was playing at before and come back even stronger for the upcoming season,” Matthew says.

 Matthew started playing basketball, his main sport, competitively in sixth grade. Before that, he played for local teams such as ‘Queens Marksmen’ and ‘New York Titans.’ During middle school he played with “New Heights,’ a team he loved and stuck with them since then.

“I don’t remember life without basketball and that’s when I realized I love the sport. My life felt a bit incomplete whenever I was out of basketball season,” Matthew said. This was when he started to realize that he didn’t want to give up basketball, and that he wanted to continue playing throughout his college years. In order for this to happen, he needed to start early, thinking of colleges he wanted to attend according to his studies, and basketball. 

His basketball coach, Frank Denunzio said, “Matt has been an outstanding student in the classroom and [is] serious about his studies. He has done the same on the court as a leader and a very focused young man.”

Matthew’s studies reflect on how he proves himself on the court, leading by example and always putting the team first. Matthew was always a STEM person, he loved math and science above everything else, which is why he chose Caltech, a STEM based school. Contributing to his decision was also financial aid and the location of the school, out of state, just enough so that he could become independent and experience something new. 

Matthew suggests that the recruitment process isn’t as complex as one makes it seem, but notes that he had to start extremely early. “The recruitment process in general started years ago where my AAU (Amatuer Athletic Union) basketball team would go to live-period tournaments where college coaches came for recruiting purposes,” said Matthew. He would constantly go to exposure events, college ID camps for certain schools, and emailing a bunch of college coaches. Schools such as Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, and Hamilton college were interested in him, but Caltech was the school he chose to attend. 

“The recruiting process also entails, from my understanding, support letters written by the respective coaches to the admissions committee,” said Matthew. Coach Denunzio said,n “[Matt] always helps his teammates out with excellent advice and they can approach him with anything. Matthew’s contribution to the team is tremendous. He makes all his teammates around him better and is and was a big part of our success as a four  year starter accumulating approximately 1000 points.”

 Matthews’ dedication to the team can explain why so many college coaches were interested in him, and how his role as a two year captain has shown his ability to take initiative. It is no surprise to anyone that Matthew was recruited, as “Matt was the role model I hope our future players follow,” volleyball Coach Elvis Haniff said.