by Matt Dalby, sports information graduate assistant
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The everyday college student has very few worries when it comes to real-life responsibility. Their biggest decisions typically relate to what to wear for class or eat for breakfast.
But, it’s safe to say Tyler Mattix is not your everyday college student.
In fact, the Shiloh High graduate has much larger aspirations and goals, evidenced by his incomprehensible workload that involves balancing school, work, cross country and military obligations.
That’s right, on top of being a Division II student-athlete paying his way through school, Mattix is part of an elite group of Americans that protects our great nation so that free-spirited college students can stress about the smaller things in life.
Mattix typically wakes up around 6:20 every weekday morning, in order to get to cross country practice on time. After getting his miles in for the day, the environmental science major then heads to campus to tackle his rigorous course load that involves four science labs this semester.
One of Mattix’s professors, Dr. Kalina Manoylov describes him as “a pleasure to teach. He’s a great student that always goes the extra step to make himself better in the classroom. Tyler brings something atypical to the average student and he certainly isn’t scared to learn.”
Just when that begins to sounds exhausting to most, Mattix grabs a few tips from his waiting job at a local restaurant until about 9 p.m. when he can finally head home for the night.
While this daily regimen would prove tiresome for the average college student, it just describes a small portion of Rack E-3 Lance Corporal Mattix’s life.
The Snellville, Ga. native partakes in monthly drill weekends for the United States Marine Corps Reserve at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga. These weekends involve classes, training and annual tests to ensure satisfaction amongst the group.
As is the case for most soldiers, Mattix appreciates the opportunity to serve the United States of America.
“It gives you a greater appreciation for the simpler things in life,” explained Mattix. “Once you go without certain things for an extended period of time you realize how important they are to you.”
He even took a month-long trip to Morocco this past summer, engaging in a joint operation with the Moroccan Army that involves training and helping them.
“It gave me a great opportunity to get “hands-on” and do my job in a practical environment.”
While others may not consider this environment “practical”, Mattix thoroughly enjoyed his opportunity to serve overseas. He even signed up to go to Afghanistan this upcoming June and is awaiting his possible assignment.
Despite residing in Cap Draa, Morocco, Mattix still found the time to continue his cross country training, getting in as many miles a day as possible.
It is this dedication that has allowed him to become such a prominent force in just over a year with the GC program, as he currently holds the second best 10K time in school history along with the third and fifth best 8K times.
“He brings an amazing work ethic everyday he runs,” proclaimed head coach Joe Samprone. “More than that, he is just a great person. I wish we could have a whole team of Tyler’s running for us.”
Prior to his stint with Georgia College, Mattix competed for North Georgia, earning All-Peach Belt Second Team honors his sophomore season.
Mattix joined the Georgia College team after his sophomore season at North Georgia, when the Saints program was disbanded.
Now that he is back in Milledgeville, the senior’s focus remains on school and cross country outside of his military obligations. But, with the graduation quickly approaching he must decide his future rather quickly.
“Right now my main focus is finishing school,” Mattix explains. “Once that is done I will decide to try for a Master’s or try for Officer Candidate School.”
The academia focused student-athlete hasn’t let that deter his on-field achievements, recently earning All-PBC Second Team honors for the second time in his career for his performance at the conference championship.
Mattix now has one more race in his inspiring career, competing in the NCAA Southeast Region Championships in a few weeks.
There’s no question what is truly on Mattix’s mind.
“I can only hope that I am Afghanistan-bound in June to get a taste of what is going on over there.”
With the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11 just passing, Mattix was asked what his thoughts were on one of the United States’ most vicious attacks.
“It was a terrible event that rallied mass patriotism throughout our country. It challenged many views we had on our own security and who we could trust.”
However, Mattix confirms that this event “Did not cause [him] to join the military. I joined because I wanted to earn the title of being a United States Marine.”
Understanding the seriousness of the situation at hand, Mattix reassures us that is the purpose of the United States Marine Corps.
“Luckily that is why we are here. If someone comes and knocks on our door, we will gladly answer.”
What Tyler Mattix doesn’t know is how lucky we are to have him on our campus here at Georgia College. A student, an athlete, a Corporal, but more importantly just a great American citizen.