CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A Tar Heel legend on the field hockey turf will follow a Tar Heel legend on the sidelines.
Erin Matson, the most decorated player in program history, has been named North Carolina’s next head field hockey coach after a national search. She follows Karen Shelton, the winningest coach in the sport’s history, who announced her retirement in December after 42 years at the UNC helm.
“Erin is an outstanding leader who has a deep and thorough knowledge of the game, understands the balance it takes to be a successful student and athlete, and is determined to expand and propel the winning tradition of Carolina Field Hockey,” Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said. “She knows how to inspire, listen, teach and win – all qualities that that will translate well to the sidelines and make her a terrific head coach. We all look forward to supporting her as she transitions and leads in this this new role.”
Matson, who will begin her duties immediately, becomes the fifth head coach in the program’s history, and just the second since the early 1980s. Shelton became the program’s head coach in 1981 at the age of 23 and built a dynasty, leading Carolina to 10 NCAA Championships and 25 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, both more than any other school.
During her time as a Tar Heel, Matson played on four NCAA Championship teams and five ACC Championship teams. She was a three-time recipient of the Honda Sport Award for Field Hockey, becoming just the second player ever – after Shelton – to win that honor three times. She finished her career as the all-time scoring leader in both ACC history and NCAA Tournament play. In 2021, she was named by the ACC Network as one of the top 10 female athletes in conference history. A five-time ACC Offensive Player of the Year and the only student-athlete in any sport to earn ACC Player of the Year recognition five times, Matson started for three of the five undefeated teams in program history.
“To say I’m excited and honoured to be the head coach of the UNC field hockey program is an understatement – this is a dream come true,” Matson said. “This program means the world to me, and I will do whatever it takes to continue the excellence that is UNC Field Hockey. I want to thank Bubba Cunningham, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and the members of the Board of Trustees for this opportunity and for believing in me. I intend to honor the University of North Carolina, Coach Shelton, and the program’s history while working to find ways to achieve new heights, side-by-side with our Carolina community.”
A member of the U.S. National Team since the age of 17, Matson has extensive international playing experience in addition to her collegiate experience. She was the top scorer at the 2022 Pan American Cup in Chile and has represented the U.S. all over the world, in countries including India, England, South Africa and New Zealand.
While balancing collegiate play, international play and studies, she also became an entrepreneur, founding a brand, “One,” that sells gear bearing her logo. The company also organized and executed summer clinics, maximizing NIL (Name, Image, Likeness opportunities) as allowed by the NCAA.
A three-time team captain while at UNC, Matson majored in Advertising and Public Relations and minored in Coaching Education, graduating in December 2022.