Hard work and determination pays off for Normandy senior in classroom and on field
May 20, 2019
Now that the tennis season has ended, Normandy senior Matt Grzybowski finally has some free time on his hands. He’s not really crazy about it, either.
“Sports always taught me to keep a good schedule,” Grzybowski explained. “I like the schedule of it. I mean, I like having free time, but, I like staying out until like five or six o’clock doing a sport, doing something that I love, and then having that compressed time to get my work done.”
The love of sports started at an early age for Grzybowski. With football, Grzybowski had a family relative who played professionally for the Pittsburgh Steelers, during the “Steel Curtain” days in the 1970s. After getting an opportunity to touch a number of Super Bowl rings, Grzybowski became inspired and dedicated himself to playing football.
Grzybowski competed for the last four years in three sports for the Invaders in football, wrestling and tennis. Over that time he has earned nine varsity letters, three in each sport.
As a leader on the Invader football team, Grzybowski started each game the last two seasons, making a tough transition from cornerback to linebacker look easy. Despite this challenge, Grzybowski was named a first team All-Conference selection. In addition, Grzybowski was invited to attend the National Football Foundation Northeast Ohio chapter Scholar-Athlete banquet, honoring the top academic students in the area competing on the gridiron.
One of Grzybowski’s best memories with the Invader football team, besides ending “the drought”, was this year’s game against crosstown rival Parma. The win was the first for the school against their rival in 11 years.
“The Parma game was so neck and neck close,” Grzybowski explained. “The whole time we were like, ‘Man, are we going to be able to pull this off?’ But, we got the job done.”
Keeping Grzybowski busy after football was another tough, physical sport in wrestling.
“It is such a grueling sport, you learn to love the grind and you learn to love all the conditioning and the kind of shape you get,” Grzybowski expressed. “But also, not a lot of people think about the team factor with it...Even though it’s just one guy at a time, you have the whole team behind you, cheering you on.”
Grzybowski enjoyed wrestling not only for the physical challenges, but, how teammates and coaches pushed the team in practice to be their best. This year, Grzybowski earned a Great Lakes Conference Honorable Mention wrestling for the Invaders at 160 pounds.
Finally in the spring, tennis would take over Grzybowski’s schedule. A second team All-Conference selection in singles, Grzybowski has spent the last two seasons perfecting his game while keeping himself conditioned for other sports during the year.
“Ten out of the twelve months during the year, I’m grinding for football and wrestling,” Grzybowski explained. “I can take a month and a half to enjoy some tennis, while staying in shape for football and wrestling and staying prepared for that. It’s just a good time.”
“Grinding” and the ability to persevere it what has truly helped Grzybowski excel, both in and out of the classroom. The dedication in the classroom has translated into excellence in AP Chemistry, AP Macro/Microeconomics, Biotechnology along with Technical Writing at Cuyahoga Community College. Grzybowski also is first chair for clarinet in Wind Ensemble.
Grzybowski will be attending Carneige Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the fall to study Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has also signed a letter of intent to play football for the Tartans, where he thinks he will fit in well with their defensive scheme.
Despite the physical challenges he has faced on the field for the Invaders, Grzybowski knows that what he has learned will help him face the academic and athletic rigors which lie ahead.
“It’s always the pressure of losing, basically,” Grzybowski expressed. “It’s constantly persevering through this constant failure and learning from it and not letting it keep you down. You have to push through and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Normandy senior Matt Grzybowski is a three-sport athlete who has earned nine varsity letters for the Invaders.