WEST SENECA, NY- He might not have brought home an Olympic medal, but Team USA Volleyball player Matt Anderson arrived home Tuesday a winner in the eyes of his fans.
Anderson is home after a breakout performance on the USA Volleyball team in London, and becoming an international heartthrob of sorts.
"To me I'm still Matt from West Seneca," he said.
Matt's humble beginnings trace back to West Seneca West High School where he led his team to a perfect 17-0 record his senior year. He also played club volleyball and went on to star at Penn State, where in his Junior year he won the 2008 NCAA championship. He then played professionally in Korea and Italy. That whole time, he didn't forget his roots.
"I wanted to play in the Olympics, but as soon as it's over I wanted to get back home and be with my family. I like the small town USA of West Seneca," said Matt.
One of his first stops in Western New York is going to get a tattoo of the Tower Bridge in London with the Olympic Rings hanging underneath it. Then Thursday at Flattery's Bar, he's having a meet and greet with all his fans. And on Friday, his family is planning a party to celebrate his achievements.
Whether it was through signs posted at businesses, watch parties at his sister's house, or fans packing local bars, Matt knew from across the pond that his hometown was behind him.
"It's a huge honor that they gave me that day, July 27th, Matt Anderson Day. Not too many people get to have that happen," he said.
His Olympic dreams came up short, losing in the quarterfinals and leaving without a medal.
"I'm not too happy with the way we finished the Olympics, so to watch the matches, especially the Italian match is not something that I really want to do," Matt continued. "I like to kind of get rid of volleyball for a couple weeks while I'm here and just kind of be with my family."
Sadly, one family member missed his Olympic journey. His father, Mike, passed away two years ago.
"He's there, so to say, and I think about him constantly. He helped me through a lot of tough situations along the way, and he'll help me through some more hopefully."
Matt feels his dad will be looking down on him as he continues to persevere and strives for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. For now, Matt will play professionally in Russia with some of the players he faced at the Olympics.
"The team that I'm going to was the best team in the world last year."
Matt is considered one of the world's best players for his age and he has advice for other young athletes, "Never think that what you're doing is enough," he said. "Play with a passion."