"30 Features in 30 Days" Sydney Matzko signs to play softball at UNC.
TORRINGTON: She is everything a parent, teacher, friend or teammate could hope for and on Friday, she took that all important next step to let the nation know more about what makes her so special.
Torrington High School senior Sydney Matzko signed her letter of intent to play at the University of North Carolina after she completes one more school and softball year with the Raiders.
In front of a packed THS library crowd that were there to support her, Matzko signed on for her next journey in life.
What can you say about Matzko that has not been written about since she broke onto the scene as a freshman and started piling up the strikeouts which are now nearing 1000?
How about congratulations? How about thank you? How about could we see a couple hundred more K’s and a deep run into the States in 2014?
All good questions but the key one is a very basic one.
How did you get here Sydney?
Matzko got to the place she finds herself, a soon to be Division I scholarship athlete attending a major university that features a Hall of Fame coach and one of the strongest programs in the ACC with a major amount of help from many, but two in particular.
Her parents; Scott and Lisa Matzko.
Not many can get to the level Matzko has without a tremendous support network and it all starts with two parents who have given all us a real gift.
Two terrific daughters, Chelsea, now studying biology at Swarthmore College and Sydney.
Chelsea was first on the softball circuit and was the leader of the Red Raiders team during her four year stint with head coach Marianne Mussleman, leading her team to 12 and 14-win seasons her last two.
The sisters played together that year they won 12 in 2009 and since then, the younger Matzko has taken the team on her shoulders but not without significant help from mom and dad.
Mom and dad have logged more miles, on the ground and in the air supporting their two gifts.
Lisa Matzko had to go a little more “All-In” when it became obvious there not enough catchers to go around on some of these travel team Sydney would play on.
“I had to start catching her every day,” a beaming mom said after watching her daughter sign on the dotted line. “I played a little softball during my high school days at Wolcott Tech so I worked with Sydney while Scott worked with Chelsea.”
That hard work also includes countless hours of taking their girls to games and practices and flying half way around the country to tournaments during the off season, which is just as busy as the in-school season, if not busier.
Lisa Matzko is also a lefty, making the challenge of catching a young lady with 50-60 miles per hour stuff even tougher.
As Sydney enters her senior year, her team has posted a 52-9 record over the previous three including a perfect 20-0 campaign a year ago that ended on a sour note with a first round Class L State Tournament home loss.
The Raiders combined record over that three year time frame is an astounding 52-9.
UNC is a highly ranked program that features a Hall of Fame head coach in Donna Papa who has been named Coach of the Year in the ACC five different times while churning out 11 Al-Americans.
Papa is in her 29th year at the helm of the Tar Heels with UNC coming off a 40-21 campaign a year ago.
The Tar Heels brag of a 93% graduation rate, five points higher than the national average but that’s child’s play for Matzko who is ranked fifth in her class with a near 100 average.
Top courses are her focus, she understands there is no professional softball league that pays a lick so her outlook includes a post-graduation plan as well.
“I want to be involved with sports in some way,” Matzko said. “I’ve been around it my entire life so maybe sports medicine of something along those lines.”
When it comes to being competitive, Matzko is right there with the best of them and it starts at home.
“Sydney just has that thing inside her that drives her,” Scott Matzko said. “She puts in the work, she’s driven to be the best by herself.”
Torrington Athletic Director Mike McKenna said it best.
“Sydney is what we strive to have all our student/athletes be like,” McKenna said. “She’s a hard worker on and off the field. I had Sydney in class myself and she was constantly involved in answering questions. She has that ability to put the academic cap on when it’s called for and then takes it off and puts the softball cap on and goes out and performs at the level she does.”
McKenna understood the role her parents played in her success as well.
“The two people that are sitting with her are the reason she is where she is today,” McKenna said. “Kids can’t do it without the support of parents like Sydney’s got.”
Another Red Raider getting ready to head out into the Division I sports world.
A positive story that will keep getting better.