It’s the beginning of another new era for Galion City Schools as Matt Tyrrell stepped into his new role as athletic director at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.
Tyrrell is a 1997 Galion graduate who is looking forward to the opportunity and the challenges that come with the position.
“My first day on the job as athletic director was also the first day of two-a-days for football practice, so I’ve jumped in with both feet, and I haven’t stopped moving since then I don’t think,” Tyrrell said with a laugh. “It has definitely been a whirlwind at times these past few weeks.”
Tyrrell just celebrated his 20th year of teaching. The first half of that was spent mostly in the Ashland City School District as a special ed English teacher as well as a wrestling coach. Then he got the chance to come home to Galion and became the physical education teacher at the Primary and Intermediate buildings. It was a position he enjoyed for nine years.
“It was the job that I went to college for,” said Tyrrell. “I never thought I was going to get the chance to do physical education until Kathy Jenney called me. No positions were ever open until then. And I was so happy to get back to Galion.
“And kids at that age are just great to be around. You can give them any activity to do, and they make it fun on their own. It was a fun job. They really were some good years for sure,” he said.
Then last year, Tyrrell decided to make a change.
“I took a position as intervention specialist at the high school,” said Tyrrell. “I decided if my goal was ultimately to be a secondary administrator, as well as my involvement in coaching at that age level, it was time to be on that schedule if possible.”
Last school year went as expected, and when the athletic director position opened up in mid-July, Tyrrell felt like it might be something he could handle.
“The hardest part so far has been my commitment to coaching football,” said Tyrrell. “But I’m gonna grind through it. I’m sure the transition would be easier if it weren’t for that right now, but I’m going to see it through.”
Tyrrell has no shortage of admiration and appreciation for what has gotten him to where he is today.
“I was an average Galion kid. I was a mediocre student. The reason I had an opportunity to even do this job is because of Galion athletics,” he said. “I was a three-sport athlete with really good coaches who influenced my life. I had great parents, but they had to work hard to take care of us.
“It was a much different time then, of course. If my parents or coaches had pushed me or ridden me like some parents do today, it probably would have turned me off altogether. I’m glad they gave me the space I needed. That’s why this job is important to me, because it may be the only chance one Galion kid has.”
One thing Tyrrell has noticed in working with high school students just in the past year is how many of them are no longer active in athletic activities. As their former physical education teacher, it is something that is on his radar.
“I see our students in the hallways daily and know what they used to be active in doing in years past,” he said. “A lot of it is culture and what goes on at home, but I want to know what we can do to help change that. We should be encouraging it when we can.”
Tyrrell was sure to point out one of his goals for his new position is that he hopes to be able to make some hiring decisions that will be good additions to Galion athletics for the long term. He sees it as a way of building community and enthusiasm that makes the students excited to participate.
“We need to hire and retain good coaches,” Tyrrell said. “They are the ones who are going to reach the kids and do that work and effort. They are the ones who will be involved in the youth programs and build the reputations that make people want to come and have their kids involved for the future.”
When asked what he hopes to bring to the position as athletic director, Tyrrell’s answer was modest.
“I want to be a leader and an influence to our coaches, so that they can turn around and influence their athletes,” he said. “I want to be a positive influence on our coaches to help them improve themselves and our programs. I’m open to their suggestions as well. I was blessed to have such a positive experience at Galion, and I want the same for our students.”
Erin Miller can be reached at 419-512-2662.