Athletic and academic accomplishments open a world of opportunity for talented St. Mark’s senior
MILLTOWN — Matt Tynes has been a very visible success story at St. Mark’s High School. The senior is a standout football player, starts for the basketball team, and shines in track.
But if you ask Tynes, his proudest accomplishments have come inside the school building. He arrived in the fall of 2014 as a middling student, but since then he has worked at least as hard on his academics as his athletics, and an Ivy League college education is on the horizon.
Earlier this year, the New Castle resident committed verbally to Harvard University to play football, although he has yet to sign a National Letter of Intent. Other offers from the Ivies could come. For Tynes, the offer from Harvard was validation of the work he has put into his high school experience.
“All this time I’ve worked really hard, especially in the classroom — there more than anywhere,” he said recently. “I’ve never been the best student or the smartest student, but I’ve really tried my best to maintain what I want to do, what I want to be, who I want to be in the classroom and on the field.
“I didn’t think I’d be playing football in college, and now to have this attention, I’m really excited. But I owe it to everyone that’s helped me along the way.”
A lot of teachers and coaches have been there, but one in particular stands out. Former St. Mark’s teacher Lee Sibley — still a member of the football coaching staff — saw potential in Tynes, both on and off the field.
Sibley also coached basketball for the Spartans, and when Tynes tried out his freshman year, he persuaded Sibley to put him on the junior varsity team instead of freshman. Sibley left St. Mark’s after that year to go coach at Goldey-Beacom College.
“The next winter I came to an early JV game and saw that Matt was the best player on that team, and I was so impressed that I offered to coach him individually. I continued to see his progress in football and realized he could be a good football player, too,” Sibley said.
Tynes said Sibley has been his mentor and father figure throughout high school. The two visited schools, met coaches and toured campuses together.
Sibley “has been there for everything. He’s almost like a father to me. He’s trained me. He’s prepared me for the SAT. So I’m really thankful for him. He saw potential for me that freshman year when I wasn’t doing so good,” Tynes said.
‘I’m at home here’
He attended Our Lady of Fatima, St. Peter Cathedral and All Saints schools before choosing St. Mark’s. He said his mother made sure he would get a solid education, and there weren’t many options. He has found a family at the school, where he also involved in Blue-Gold and student council.
“I really know I’m at home here. And now that the school is smaller, people really get to connect with each other,” he said. “I really felt that this was where I wanted to be. This was where I felt comfortable.”
Academically, things did not click right away; Tynes said he was not focused enough. But with the support of his teachers, his grades began to climb, and his mindset changed.
“It wasn’t just one day, but over a period of time, I knew I had to start studying. I knew I had to work harder. And it ended up working for me.”
With the grades came an all-around confidence. No obstacle appears too large. Tynes may not play professional sports, but he wants to work in sports management. Wherever he is, he sees himself being a leader.
His coach, mentor and teacher, Sibley, is confident that whatever his student chooses to do, he will be successful.
“Matt is driven to be special and he wants to challenge himself academically as well. I think he wants to go to the best school he can even if it means a lower level athletically,” Sibley said.
The balance of his time in high school will keep him busy. The Spartans began their basketball season this week, and as one of just three seniors on the roster, Tynes will have to lead while he plays. In the spring he will get back into the track and field mindset. Last spring, he took second place in Division II in both long jump and triple jump.
He’ll also be busy in the classroom, aiming at that future at Harvard or one of the other Ivy League universities. He anticipates no “senioritis.”
“I want to finish on a high note grade-wise. Early on, I wasn’t consistent with my grades, and I just want to maintain that consistency, try to get straight A’s or as high as I can.”