UNC field hockey hires legendary player Erin Matson as head coach a month after her graduation

University of North Carolina field hockey announced Erin Matson, the program’s most accomplished player ever, as its new head coach Tuesday.

Matson is just 22 years old and graduated from UNC in December.

While playing on four NCAA championship teams and five ACC championships and becoming the all-time scoring leader in both ACC history and NCAA tournament play, she earned a degree in advertising and public relations with a minor in coaching education.

The accomplishments don’t stop there. She was named UNC’s team captain three times and has been a member of the U.S. National Team since the age of 17. At the beginning of 2022, she was the top scorer at the Pan American Cup in Chile.

She is replacing Karen Shelton, the winningest coach in the sport's history and the namesake of the team’s home field. She led UNC to 10 NCAA championships and 25 ACC championships, both more than any other school.

After 42 years of leading UNC, she announced her retirement last month. As a player, Shelton was the first to win the Honda Sport Award for Field Hockey three times; Matson became the second.

According to the release, Matson will start her duties “immediately,” and become the fifth head coach in the program’s history. Shelton was 23 when she assumed the role four decades ago.

"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 in the release. "She knows how to inspire, listen, teach and win — all qualities 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 new role."

Matson celebrated her graduation with a heartfelt video farewell.

“This is not a goodbye, it can’t be,” she said. “Chapel Hill is eternal, and always will be. No matter where I go.”

She won’t be going anywhere, it turns out.

STORRS, CT - NOVEMBER 20: Erin Matson #1 of University of North Carolina takes a shot during 2022 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship game between Northwestern and North Carolina at Sherman Complex on November 20, 2022 in Storrs, Connecticut. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Erin Matson is UNC field hockey's newest head coach. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).