Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Once an Owl, Always an Owl: Profile on Head Football Coach Matt Raivio

Raivio discusses a playcall. Photo by Ryan Q.

Long before Matt Raivio was the Head Coach for the undefeated 2023 Division Champion Foothill College Football team, he was a kid who loved sports. Growing up in West Linn, Oregon, Coach Rav, as he’s affectionately known by staff and players alike, was always an active kid. The son of an English Teacher and Lawyer, Raivio’s parents encouraged him to try out as many things as possible, yet he never felt pushed into any of them. After trying baseball, soccer, and basketball, in high school he found his calling through football, excelling to the point where he was thinking about playing in college.

After much consideration and a visit down to California, Raivio found himself, at the age of 18, over 650 miles from home at Foothill College. Going from living with his family to living in an apartment with teammates was admittedly a shift for Raivio, yet with some practice he found that new balance. On the impact of that move, he reflects, “There’s certainly a different culture down here, different things to experience and it was great for me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

While playing at Foothill, Raivio had a stellar career on the field. He was named the 1st Team All-California Center his sophomore year, as well as leading the Owls to two Silicon Valley Bowl victories as a team captain. While developing rapidly as a football player, he also took advantage of the opportunity that a school such as Foothill awards with a sharp focus on his academics. “It was tough to go in the classroom, but I was certainly provided enough help and support to where I could learn to study on my own.”

Raivio used these skills he acquired at Foothill to raise his game to the next level, and made a transfer to the Division 1 Football Program at Northern Arizona University. While at NAU, Raivio continued to rack up accolades, including 1st Team All-Conference center in 2002 and 2003, an All-American in 2003, as well as an Academic All-American in both 2002 and 2003. These major contributions culminated in an induction to the NAU Football Hall of Fame, an honor that Raivio himself wasn’t exactly expecting during his playing career.

“You’re never really out there thinking about anything other than wanting to win games and have fun with your teammates.” Being a center, and the leader of the offensive line, Raivio had to develop a deep camaraderie with his fellow linemen, as it requires a seamless connection between all members to achieve success. Even if a line succeeds 99% of the time, spectators often only remember the one penalty call against them rather than the tireless protection they provided. That necessary togetherness and dependability learned over time in the trenches with his line is clearly present within the coaching staff here at Foothill.

Raivio’s transition into coaching wasn’t as straightforward as many former players. He got his undergrad in pre-law and was planning to be a lawyer like his dad. Yet it was a conversation with his father that prompted the discovery of coaching, yet another loving push in the direction of exploration from Raivio’s family. During his senior year at NAU, he interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Offensive Line Coach. After a brief stint in Arena Football, he applied for a position as a Graduate Assistant Coach at NAU and won the position.

“It didn’t feel like a job,” Raivio remarked with a smile. 

After 2 years coaching at NAU, Raivio returned to where his journey began. From 2008 to 2021, he was the Defensive Coordinator for Foothill College. In 2019, his defensive unit led the state of California in points per game allowed while on the way to a Conference title. In 2021, the unit led the State in turnovers created, leading the Owls to another bowl game appearance.

Before the 2022 season, Raivio succeeded Kelly Edwards as the 7th head football coach in the program’s 70-year history. In his debut campaign as a head coach, Raivio led Foothill to an 8-3 record and a Silicon Valley Bowl championship. In the following season, he led the Owls to the school’s first perfect 11-0 season, capped off with a division championship and being named Coach of the Year.

Even with his wild success as a coach in his own right, Raivio is quick to credit the coaches he learned under as a player. “You’re a molded piece of all the coaches and culture’s past… when you grow up with a winning culture and winning standards, it really becomes a part of you.” This recognition is a reflex for Raivio. Even in his current success at Foothill, he credits and praises the administration, staff, and coaches, specifically Defensive Coordinator Brandon Younger and Offensive Coordinator Kenny Coleman. “We have the right support from the administration and the right staff members together, getting all the individual pieces together to form a true winning culture.”

After the Owl’s undefeated season, they will likely be bumped up in divisions, awarding them an opportunity to play for state and national championships. Considering that new level of challenges, Coach Raivio echoes the program’s determination. “That’s where we want to push ourselves, there’s still more out there for us. We’re not happy unless we’re getting the best in the world.”

Speaking of his future, it’s clear Raivio has his feet planted here on Loop Road. “This is where I want to be. My wife has a great job here and this is where we want to raise our kid. I grew up in the same house my entire life, and that’s something I feel is super important for a stable family.” This dedication to the program has been clearly represented in the players that have come through the Owl’s program, and the impact isn’t lost on Raivio. “This level is one where I feel I can make the most impact on kids [during] a couple pivotal years in their lives.”

When asked for advice for someone pursuing football, coaching, or any goal for that matter, Raivio’s impressive outlook shines through once again. “If you love something, the work won’t seem like work. If you’re a coach, and you want a player to work hard for you, you better show them you’re willing to work ahead for them. There’s not many professions that can be as rewarding.”

After a brief celebratory period for the Owls, preparations for next season are already underway. Raivio and his staff will continue to strengthen the foundation they worked so hard to build in 2023 with an exciting new slate of opponents on the docket for 2024.

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About the Contributor
Nick Fletcher, Managing Editor
Nick is a Journalism student who hopes to make a spot for himself in the sportswriting world. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys diving into untold and forgotten storylines. An obsessive baseball watcher, he is entranced with sabermetrics and the ever-increasing ways to study America's pastime. In his free time, he is most likely riding his bike up a hill.

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