The Shotwell name will take the field for the Mustangs this Saturday, Oct. 23 for the last family weekend game in their family’s distinguished 18-year football career at Cal Poly.
Since 2003, Cal Poly has seen the four brothers, oldest Kyle, middle brothers Ryan and Troy and current player Matt play at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
“It’s more than just football and it’s more than a school at this point,” Kyle said. “For us, Cal Poly football has become something that is a part of our family –– an extension to our family.”
The three-year starter and team captain Matt Shotwell is carrying on the legacy set by his brothers before him. Matt is in his sixth year as a Mustang and is leading the team in total tackles for the fourth year in a row with 65 through six games. He also ranks sixth in school history with 310 career tackles.
“It means a lot growing up having brothers that played in this program,” Matt said. “That was my dream to come here and play.”
Matt was just seven years old when his oldest brother Kyle Shotwell was starting for the Mustangs and won the Buck Buchanan Award in 2006, an award given to the nation’s top defensive player in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Ryan Shotwell, a defensive end during his time in college, followed his brother to San Luis Obispo and played from 2006-09. Ryan ended his career seventh on the all-time sack leader list in program history.
Troy Shotwell played from 2008-11 as a long snapper and defensive lineman alongside Ryan. Kyle also came back to coach for the 2009 season, putting three Shotwell brothers in the Cal Poly football program at once.
“All three of my brothers were a part of the program at the same time, so having that family dynamic for them was pretty awesome,” Matt said. “I kind of wish I got to experience that. After home games and after wins [Kyle] would come to the stands, grab me and put me on his shoulders as we sang the fight song. Cal Poly has been a part of my life ever since then.”
As the last Shotwell to make his way through the program, Matt has made his own impact and will close out the family legacy on a high note.
“[Matt] is the epitome of what you want in a Cal Poly student-athlete,” head football coach Beau Baldwin said. “A leader in the weight room and the classroom.”
Matt has been voted a team captain three years in a row by his fellow teammates because of his great leadership, Baldwin explained.
Former teammate and roommate of Matt, now offensive quality control coach Harry Whitson called Shotwell a “ten out of ten guy.”
“You can’t ask for a better teammate,” Whitson said. “He’s compassionate and cares for other people more than himself. He’s always positive and one of the most reliable people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Matt attributes the characteristics and love for the game that he exuberates to his brothers, and said “there are little bits and pieces that I’ve learned from all of them.”
“They all give me a certain dynamic when it comes to football and life,” Matt said. “Kyle was a very hard-working individual, so developing that worth ethic came to him. My brother Troy helped me with long snapping and developing more tools. My brother Ryan has always been there. He was always very supportive of me.”
The Shotwell’s are a football family, as their father played for UC Berkeley in the early 80s and, with the brothers playing since they were young children, the game has been a staple in their house.
“Football has always been one of the things we gather for,” said Kyle. “We love it, we do.”
Matt highlighted his father as an important part of his football career.
“My dad texts me every single Tuesday and Thursday about how the week is going in practice,” Matt said. “He has always been our number one fan.”
Just as the football program has meant a tremendous amount to the Shotwells, the school itself has become a core piece of their lives.
Kyle explains it as more than a school and that Cal Poly has become a part of their family.
“At this point, it is almost hard to imagine what the Shotwell family would be like if Cal Poly didn’t exist,” Kyle said. “Cal Poly has contributed to some extensions to our family. I wouldn’t have my nieces and nephews now if Ryan and Troy hadn’t married the girls they were dating at Cal Poly.”
According to Matt, his parents attend every single home game, making the drive from their home in Goleta, CA to San Luis Obispo. Those drives are now numbered, and the family is “cherishing this last season.”
“Matt’s going to have his senior game and we are all going to walk across the field as a family,” Kyle said. “It’s going to be a beautiful moment; a moment we won’t forget.”
As game day rolls around this Saturday, the Shotwell’s EZ Up that has been a part of the community for the last 18 years will be up inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium not because they have to be here, but because they love it here.