Meet the Tylers - a College Coaching Family
by Tim Donovan, 26 December 2013
Special from Donovan Tennis Strategies
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Donovan Tennis Strategies enjoys taking opportunities to recognize student-athletes and coaches alike who offer unique contributions to the world of college tennis and recruiting. In this feature, we catch up with Steven, Hilary and Matt Tyler, a collegiate tennis coaching family! While there is a slight element of surprise in the fact that three out of four family members have chosen college coaching as a career path, Steve (Head Men's and Women's Tennis Coach, Central College, D-III - Iowa), Matt (Head Women's Tennis Coach, Bradley University, D-I - Illinois), and Hilary (now Hilary Ritchie, Assistant Women's Tennis Coach, Rutgers University, D-I - New Jersey) can all point to reasons why, in the end, it makes sense that this outcome evolved.
The happy - and coaching - Tyler family
Living in Wyoming and Colorado as the kids (Matt and Hilary) were growing, it was an enormous challenge to find coaching, indoor courts, established school teams, and structured recreational programs at local parks for the kids. Getting into tennis at a high level was an exorbitant time and family commitment, to say the least. Steve, who played his collegiate tennis at the University of Iowa
, ran a State Farm Insurance agency while the kids were younger. Together with his wife, Sandy, who was a teacher, the Tylers promoted a well-rounded education and lifestyle for their children. As a result, Matt and Hilary headed off to college (to Mesa State
, and Colorado State
, respectively) to pursue a variety of interests in the classroom. Aside from each of their successful collegiate playing careers, there didn't seem to be any obvious early indicators pointing to collegiate coaching as a coinciding future step for all of them.
Beneath the surface, however, are common denominators that drove Steve and Sandy then, and unite the parents and kids today. Among all the Tylers, and stemming primarily from Steve, is an intense passion for sports, fitness, and competition. It is a passion for health and learning that had Steve coaching Matt and Hilary in every activity from little league to tennis. It is the passion that encouraged driving across the state of Wyoming into Montana simply to secure some hitting time, and prompted urging the school board to implement a school tennis team. It is a passion that, against many odds, allowed Steve, Matt and Hilary to develop their talents in tennis.
The other mutual thread through the family is the shared core value of improving the lives of others. There is a familial focus on being positive with people and dedicating themselves to learning, teaching and mentoring in a variety of life's settings. Steve, Matt and Hilary are all intrinsically drawn to what Steve refers to as the "unique, exciting and demanding" task of coaching college-aged players. Ironically, the Tylers see one another as mentors and role models for each other, as well. Together as coaches, they share support, advice, confidences and reassurance about their day-to-day coaching activities, and positively affecting the lives of young people on the broader scale.