Selkirk and SFU have battled though an intense rivalry over the past two years, making the move a potentially awkward situation for the 22 year-old forward.
“Truthfully at first I was a bit nervous about coming to SFU,” said Luongo “It’s hard to know how you’re going to be perceived and accepted in the room when you join another team, especially when you come from a rival like Selkirk. Everyone in the organization has been great though, and I felt completely welcomed from day one.”
SFU played host to Selkirk on their October 10th home opener. The 6-2 SFU win marked Luongo’s first time matching up against his former teammates. “Seeing guys you spent the past couple years fighting with, now on the other side kind of threw me for a loop,” he said. “But as soon as the puck drops all thats forgotten and in my opinion playing against former teammates, roommates etc. makes the game that much more intense.”
For some SFU sports fans, Luongo may have already been a familiar name, and not for the obvious reason. Matt’s dad, Mario Luongo played football for SFU back in the 80’s. His dad’s great SFU memories helped the Surrey boy decide to return to the Lower Mainland to finish school.
“The biggest factor in my decision to transfer from Selkirk to SFU was definitely the opportunity to receive a fantastic education right in my own backyard.”
“I have known Matt and his family for a long time so I know first hand what type of character and person he is,” he said. “He brings a great attitude and work ethic into the dressing room.”
“Knowing Mark and a few of the other guys, and the work they’ve put into building a great program here also made the transition an easy one,” said Luongo.
“My dad was a big proponent in me coming to SFU as well… hearing some of his old war stories made it that much easier.”
The move to Burnaby also allowed Luongo more opportunities to play in front of some friendly faces, “Equally as important for me though was the fact that for the first time in many years I get the chance to play hockey in front of friends and family.” Judging by the size of his cheering section against UVIC on November 1st, they’re excited to have him back as well.
Of course, as a student athlete, Luongo didn’t just change teams, he made the jump between two very different schools.
“Academically coming to SFU has certainly been a bit of an adjustment. Coming from Selkirk where most of my classes had maybe 30 people, to now being in lecture halls with a couple hundred students is definitely a wake up call. The biggest academic transition for me has actually been out of the classroom though, in my travel. Coming from Surrey to Burnaby in rush hour traffic every morning is probably the biggest change compared to Castlegar, where I’d generally leave home 5 minutes before class starts. In my opinion though when it comes to the actual learning side of things, it doesn’t matter what school you’re at you get out what you put in.”
This season marks Luongo’s third in the BCIHL, during which he’s tallied 15 points in 48 regular season games, but now that he’s a more senior player he’s looking to share his experience and leadership.
“I hope to bring some hard work and grit to SFU while also being able to contribute offensively. I think one of my biggest assets is my play in the defensive end, and the fact that this is now my third year in the league I hope to take on a leadership role and use my experience to the teams advantage.”
Overall, Luongo looks to be a promising addition to the SFU roster.
“Matt is a great kid and a very hard working individual,” said Coletta. “He knows what it takes to win so we are happy to have him in an SFU jersey.”