Matt Lea enters his 10th year as the Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field programs. After 2 years as an assistant coach at California Lutheran University, Lea took the reins of the program during the 2008-2009 season and led the men’s team to a top-10 finish and the women’s team to four top-20 finishes.
Lea and his coaching staff have recruited another strong batch of student-athletes this season and the chances of continuing to have another top-25 finish on the men’s and women’s side looks to be in good shape. Over the years of his head coaching career, the men have earned five All-American honors and the women have earned 15 All-American honors. During Lea’s tenure six Cal Lutheran student-athletes have won NCAA Individual National Championships.
For the past nine seasons, Lea’s squad took home two SCIAC conference championships and four top-20 national finishes on the women’s side while the men took home a top-10 national finish. Lea was named the USTFCCCA West Region Women’s Coach of the Year in 2014. Lea has overseen 15 USTFCCCA All-West Region Honors, six on the men’s side and nine on the women’s, 48 SCIAC titles, 16 men and 32 women, 206 SCIAC All-Conference honors, 69 men and 137 women, 38 Cal Lutheran school records, nine men and 29 women, six SCIAC Athletes of the Year, three men and three women, one SCIAC Newcomer of the Year, one woman, two USTFCCCA West Region Female Track Athletes of the Year, one USTFCCCA West Region Female Field Athlete of the Year, two USTFCCCA West Region Male Field Athletes of the Year, one USTFCCCA National Male Field Athlete of the Year, and one USTFCCCA National Male Athlete of the Year!
A native of Camarillo, California, Lea came to Cal Lutheran from UC Santa Barbara, where he was the assistant men’s and women’s sprints/jumps coach for two years and was part of the coaching staff that won UC Santa Barbara’s first ever women’s Big West Conference Championship. Lea has coached nine outdoor regional and national qualifiers, six Big West Conference Champions, 28 Big West All-Conference honors, and eight UC Santa Barbara School Records. Under Lea’s direction, Kylie McCuen earned Big West Conference Female Athlete of the Year in 2005.
In 2008, Lea was named to the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as a national facilitator. He helps younger student-athletes and administrators around the country develop better leadership abilities and skills that they can take back to their own institutions. In 2012, Lea was also named to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) Executive Committee.
An accomplished student-athlete in his own right, Lea was an NCAA All-American and in 2001 his 4x400 meter relay team finished fourth in the nation. Lea was also a four-time All-Pac 10 honoree in the 400-meters.
A Camarillo High School graduate, Lea went on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2003. In 2014, Lea completed his Master’s Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University, Irvine.
He is married to Rebecca Lea, a former hurdler from the University of Arizona. They have a son, Jordan.