Meet Matthew Pennell '21

By Adam McDougall, St. Thomas University Journalism

Brief Intro
Matthew comes from a loving family and is from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Simply put, he has been overlooked most of his career perhaps because of his size, or where he is from, regardless though he has been a key member for us the last two years. Matthew will be replacing arguably the best PG in the country next year and quite honestly we feel like we replace a #1 PG with another. Matthew has a great sense of humour and what makes him so valuable, aside from his skill, is his willingness to always talk basketball and his amazing basketball IQ. He is extremely coachable and like most of our players with at least one year left with us, is far from his full potential! Enjoy his story!
I wound up attending RNS because I wanted to play high level basketball outside of Newfoundland, and one of my good friends from the back home – Caleb Sooley – was already going to RNS. His parents told my parents how good RNS was, both academically and athletically, and when I started talking to Caleb, he told me about the team and the culture they had. It sounded like something I really wanted to be a part of. A little while later, Coach Gay attended one of my games in Halifax, and I ended up playing really well in that game. That is where our relationship started. After that, it just seemed like a natural fit for me to go to RNS.
I wanted to leave Newfoundland to play basketball basically because I wouldn’t get as much exposure at home as I would elsewhere. In Newfoundland, there are only so many coaches that could see me, limiting my contact with certain programs, schools, and overall just limiting my opportunities. I wanted as much exposure as I could get. I didn’t think that I could be noticed if I continued to play back home. The end goal for me was to raise the caliber of my play, and make it to a program where I could be noticed. I believe that my goal has been accomplished, due in no small part to the fact that I left home, and chose to attend RNS. RNS has brought my game to a whole new level, and I don’t think that I would be where I am if I had stayed at home.
As a program, RNS is unique because everyone has a mutual love for each other. Even our alumni get love from the current team. There are guys who have graduated in the past – guys I haven’t met, but guys that I’ve heard stories about – that I consider to be my brothers simply because they played RNS basketball. I believe that one fact alone is something that no other program in Canada could match. That love is exemplified within our team as well. We play hard, but we play hard for each other. Everyone plays their role perfectly. For us, it’s not about getting stats or putting up as many shots as you can, everybody knows our goal, and we all play hard for one another in order to achieve that goal. That goal is to win a national championship.
As an individual, I don’t really focus on accolades or any statistical successes. I just want to get better every day, get to be the best that I can be, and do whatever I can to help the team be the best it can be. Like I said, our goal as a team is to win a national championship, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will accomplish that goal.
I consider myself to be an elite shooter, and, as a shooter, I adopt a slightly different mentality than other players. As a shooter, you have to have a short memory because, even if you miss your last two, three, or four shots, you have to know that the next one is going to fall. You have to trust yourself, and you cannot allow your last shots to affect your confidence. You cannot be hesitant to shoot no matter how you have been playing throughout any given game.
I have been doubted a lot throughout my career, but I just try to use the doubters as motivation. I don’t really care what they say, to be honest. At the end of the day, I just try to go out on the court and do what I do best every single day. The fact that I’ve been doubted is undoubtedly something that has motivated me to improve. It has motivated me to be in the gym working on my body and my game as much as possible. Especially on the days when I don’t want to work – those hard days when it feels especially difficult to get up and go to the gym – I just think about the people who have doubted me, and how far I’ve come. That gives me more than enough motivation to put in the work.
My favourite subject in school is English. I like to write, and I like to think that I’m good at putting my thoughts down on paper in a pretty succinct manner. I do not have any plans for a career, or even a post-secondary program, but I do know that I plan on going to university, and I plan on playing basketball while I am there.