UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications
New Student Discovers UT Tyler Through Softball Team
October 14, 2011
Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769 or 903.539.7196 (cell)
Two years ago, while The University of Texas at Tyler softball team prepared for its first appearance in the National Collegiate Athletics Association Div. III World Series, a host family more than 1,500 miles prepared to welcome them.
As a result, Matt Sickles – the son of that host family – is now a proud Patriot himself.
Impressed by the entire Patriot team and coaches’ enthusiasm, Sickles – then a high school sophomore – learned about UT Tyler through the team, curiously asking them questions. He said his decision to attend UT Tyler wasn’t difficult to make.
“After the series was over, I applied and was accepted that March, and I came to visit the following Easter weekend,” said Sickles, a UT Tyler freshman business management major. “I just fell in love with the campus and the entire atmosphere. The professors are willing to help, and the living arrangements are great. My parents would back me no matter where I decided to go. They were cool with it.”
Patriots softball coach Mike Reed said Sickles and his family have become family friends to the entire Patriot softball organization, who serves as university ambassadors.
“We’re representing the school and getting the school name out there to places that may not have heard about us. So to have that interaction and for him to come to school here out of that – it’s great,” Reed said.
“They provided local support and came out to our games. We really just got to know the family, and we have stayed in touch. They have been and are a big part of the team. They even drove nine hours to watch us play one game in Virginia during the 2010 World Series,” he added with a grin.
Sickles said he not only does he have Reed and the softball team to thank, but also his mom for volunteering the family to serve as one of the eight hosts.
“Our neighbor was the athletic trainer at Montclair State, where the world series was held, and he asked us if we wanted to be a host family because they were short on volunteers. My mom, who volunteers for everything, said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it, as long as we have the furthest team’ because we all figured they would need the most help.”
Reed credits Sickles and his family for their hospitality.
“Matt and his family took care of us while we were there, so we’re looking out for him while he’s here. I had never been to New Jersey, and most of our team had never been there. With the excitement of playing in your first world series, along with the nervousness of being somewhere you have never been before, they helped us relax. They became such big supporters of our girls.”
Upon graduation, Sickles hopes to own a landscaping business. He enjoys golf, drag racing, fishing, trap shooting and cheering on Reed and the Patriots, of course.
Sickles’ sister, a high school sophomore, may follow in her brother’s footsteps. She plans to visit UT Tyler soon.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of almost 7,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.