Get to know Mr. Matt Roy

According to the blurb on Northwood’s web site, Matt Roy…

…has taught Physics, Physical Science, and Biology at Northwood School since 2004.  He has also coached various sports including soccer, crew, and whitewater kayaking.. Before life at Northwood, Matt was the Executive Director of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and a member of the 1988 Olympic Bobsled team.  He is a 1982 graduate of St. Lawrence University where he majored in Biology and Environmental Studies. Matt is married and has four children – Emily ’08, Kate ’06, Chris ’15 and Robbie.

Staff writer Bernado Simões ’20 sat down with Mr. Roy to get to know him better. Here is his report.

Bernado Simões: Tell me a little about yourself.

Mr. Roy: I was born in New York City, and I lived there until I was six. From there, I moved to Westchester County and then to Saranac Lake when I was around twenty, twenty-five. I’ve been living in Lake Placid since 1985 when I married my wife Caroline. We have four children and currently three dogs, but we hope to give one back.

I was a bobsledding athlete from 1980 to 1990. I ran the USA Bobsled Federation from 1992 to 2004, and I have been teaching at Northwood since the 2004-2005 school year.


How did you first learn about Northwood? Why did you decide to come here?

When I was bobsledding, I felt that understanding physics gave me a competitive advantage. Even though I was a biology major, I thought I would like to teach physics one day. But actually realizing that I wanted to be a teacher goes way back….

My mom and I were on our way to California when we found out that my father had collapsed on a golf course because of stomach cancer. He was about to take a new job in Nigeria. Despite my dad’s cancer, I went to the American School in Switzerland, because it was easier than going to school in Nigeria and then coming back to the States. When my dad passed away, I was still at the American School. There, I had people, such as my rugby coach, my kayak coach, and my chemistry teacher who were sort of father figures to me, and I thought that after a career in bobsledding maybe I’d go teach at a private school. So I applied for a job at Northwood, and here I am sixteen years later.

When you first got here, what was your first impression of Northwood? 

Before coming here, I already knew of Northwood. I had a lot of friends here. When growing up, I had a girlfriend who went here, my wife went here, and the guy who got me into bobsledding and I would come down on the weekends and work out on the Edwards Field when I was at St. Lawrence. I remember Northwood as a nice tight community–a smaller school than what I was used to.


How has the school changed since you came here sixteen years ago?

I would say that the biggest difference is co-curricular. When I started here, students were pretty much competitive hockey players or skiers. Everybody else that wasn’t on a team went to the mountain and skied during the winter. Now we have dance, drama, music, rockets, mountain biking, yoga, etc.


How did you start bobsledding?

I was in a waterski club, and the guy who drove the boat in the club had been in the 1980 Winter Olympics. He had crashed and was hurt, but he was going to start sliding again. He asked me to be his brakeman, so we trained together in the fall. At that time, my mother had a boyfriend who had been a bobsledder, and he told me, “If you wanna control your destiny, you gotta be a driver,” so I started driving and would slide from December to March every year.


Do you currently have any connection to bobsledding?

For the last fifteen years, I have taken Northwood kids out to participate in a youth sliding program.

After my career as an athlete, I was Executive Director for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for 12 years. I was very proud to get Skeleton and Womens’ Bobsled added to the Olympic program for the 2002 games. I spent a lot of time traveling, a lot of time away from my family, and after 20 years, I was ready for some time off. Now I look forward to retiring from teaching and having some time to volunteer at track.


What was your favorite day at Northwood so far?

Every day is great here! I like being involved with the kids.

I do remember a day when the power was out because of a storm, and the teachers taught without any power, without any lights. That was interesting!

Some of my favorite memories are when kids say “Oh my god, I can’t do that,” when they first go whitewater kayaking, but at the end of the day manage to do it. Those moments make me proud. Or sometimes when I’m teaching and a kid says, “Oh, I get it now!”


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