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New Stanislaus AD looks to strengthen community ties
New CSU Stanislaus Athletic Director Mike Matoso is placing an emphasis on community ties. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

For the past three months Mike Matoso’s life has been one of adjustments.

 After leaving the University of San Diego to assume the duties of athletic director at California State University, Stanislaus, Matoso has had to move his family, become acquainted with the inner workings of a public university, and come to terms with the summer heat of the Valley.

Although change can be difficult for anybody, Matoso’s transition from the coastal lifestyle of San Diego to Turlock’s generously warm environment has been made easier by what he describes as a town that puts community first.

“I had never been on campus before.  When I visited I was really surprised by how beautiful the campus was and I was impressed with the town because I felt like we could really make a difference in the community,” Matoso said. “Everyone I talked to was very much about community, so as the only university in town we want to reach out and draw people in. We can build something special here that you can’t in metropolitan areas.”

Matoso’s emphasis on community is ever present and is the first of five major initiatives he has outlined to help elevate Warrior athletics among Turlockers, the others being academic, athletic, branding, and communication.

Big time events like the upcoming NCAA Division II Conference Track and Field Championships are one way Matoso plans on inciting interest from non-students in the area, as the university looks to not only show off its facilities to outsiders but to the locals as well.

“It’s a good opportunity to get people in town interested, it’s good for the local economy, and it’s advantageous for us to get other teams to come to our facility,” Matoso said of the upcoming event. “We’re also trying to see what we can do with the high schools and junior colleges in the community to get them more involved with our campus.”

If Matoso has his way, this year’s Track and Field Championships will be just one of many national events the Warriors will host in the next three to five years with golf and soccer being big possibilities. Matoso also has plans to install lights to the baseball and softball fields, as well as remodeling the basketball court to resemble NBA style seating, all with the hopes to attract more national exposure.

“Sports are great in the way of goal setting and healthy living and in Division II I feel that things are put in better perspective that Division I,” Matoso said. “We want to be the best all around sports team within the conference, but it might take a couple of years.” 

Of course facilities mean nothing if there aren’t talented athletes to fill them, which is why CSU Stanislaus has begun to look in its own backyard for future Warriors. The reasoning is simple, local athletes not only help create competitive teams but they also strengthen ties with the community.

“When there are more local student athletes involved with your program more people are going to want to come out and watch the events. It’s nice for them to have their friends and family come out and it’s good for the Central Valley,” Matoso said. “There’s huge potential for Turlock to be a college town.”