ST. PAUL - After coaching and working with countless St. Paul football players over the years, and seeing many of those young athletes pursue the sport beyond high school, St. Paul Lions football coach Mark Tichkowsky is witnessing firsthand the success of the program, as his own son moves on to play university football.
Kyler Tichkowsky is graduating from St. Paul Regional High School this month, and has committed to play with Valley City State University in North Dakota. While playing football, Kyler will also be enrolled in the Fisheries and Wildlife program, Bachelor of Environmental Sciences.
Mark admits that heading south of the border "could be interesting" given the global pandemic, but the opportunity is exciting for the family. At this point, the school is going ahead with football and schooling in the coming year, but Kyler is waiting on complete confirmation and could start by doing some online schooling.
Of course, Mark is proud of his son for his accomplishments over the years. He credits the extra work put in by attending football camps and hitting the weight room as being important in Kyler's success. Also, being part of a high school team that went to provincials finals adds to the experience.
“It just shows them that they’re right there and can play with best," says Mark. He says that while his son has played other sports, he did have a keen interest in football, much like his dad. Kyler has been near the football field since he was really little, watching his dad coach over the years.
For Kyler, there isn't any one thing he loves about football, but rather it's everything.
"I really enjoy the all of the parts of the game. From weight training in the off-season, to sping camp where we get to work one-on-one with the coaches, and to the regular season where it really counts. I really would like to see how far I could go in the sport of football," says Kyler.
When asked how the opportunity to play in North Dakota came up, Kyler says he made a highlight reel from his Grade 11 year and sent it out to a number of universities.
"I got invited to a high school showcase camp in North Dakota last July. At the showcase camp, there were probably seven or eight university coaches recruiting at the time," he explains. "Valley City State coaches contacted me in the fall and wanted more film from this year. I got a call in the spring from the assistant head coach and he asked if I would like to play for his team."
Kyler is a receiver was also on most of the special teams while playing high school football. When asked how his experience playing football in St. Paul has helped him, Kyler pointed to the coaching staff.
"I would say having a great coaching staff and being a two-time provincial silver medalist has added greatly to my experiences. Playing against the best in the province shows what a great program St. Paul football has going for it," says Kyler.
While the global pandemic could have an affect on travel plans for Kyler to head south, it has also created challenges as he continues to train physically.
"First of all, I cannot go to the gymnasium to work out, so now I have a program I am doing at home, which is not ideal," he admits. Like many young athletes, Kyler is hopeful things will return to "normal" soon.