Three-sport standout becomes third Viking honoree in last five years
By Jim Hague
Tyler Krychkowski has been involved in sports for as long as he can remember. In fact, it’s probably even before that.
The recent North Arlington High School graduate began to play soccer in his hometown’s recreation program when he was still a toddler, just about able to walk, never mind run.
“I think I was about 4 years old,” Krychkowski said. “I really don’t remember exactly. But I remember that I was pretty good right away and that everyone wanted to play against me. I just spent a lot of time watching and learning.”
Krychkowski came from an athletic family, so that had to help. His late father, Steve, was a highly respected high school and college basketball offi cial who also worked for three decades with the game staff at all St. Peter’s College athletic events. His older brother, Tom, was a fi ne soccer player at North Arlington, who went on to play at New Jersey City University.
When Krychkowski was 8 years old, he added basketball to his repertoire. Again, he enjoyed almost instant success.
“I was pretty good at basketball right away,” Krychkowski said. “I loved how it came so natural to me. That defi nitely helped me later on down the road.”
His involvement in track and fi eld had to wait a bit, until he enrolled at North Arlington High.
“I was a freshman and I wanted to keep in shape for soccer,” Krychkowski said. “It’s the only reason why I joined the track team was to stay ready for soccer. But the more I did it, the better I got. By the time I was a junior, I realized I was getting pretty decent and decided to stay with it.”
Put all three together and you have the makings of one of the fi nest all-around careers in the history of North Arlington High School.
During his tenure as a Viking athlete, Krychkowski became one of the school’s all-time leading goal scorers in soccer, reached the 1,000-point plateau in basketball and broke two school records in track and field.
“Absolutely, I did more than I could have ever dreamed of,” Krychkowski said. “I always wanted to do well, but I never thought I could do this well. It was always a goal for me.”
For his efforts, Krychkowski has been selected as The Observer Male Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 scholastic sports year. Krychkowski is the 10th recipient of the award, dating back to fi rst honoree Hugh MacDonald of Kearny in 2003.
Krychkowski is the third North Arlington athlete to receive the honor in the last fi ve years, joining Mike Gross (2007-2008) and Peter Santos (2009-2010).
Krychkowski received his award recently from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla.
“It’s a good feeling,” Krychkowski said upon receiving the award. “At the start of the season, I was hopeful that I could get the award at the end of the year. When I played with Peter Santos, I thought maybe I could fill his shoes if I worked at it and I could do what he did.”
Krychkowski was the Vikings’ leading scorer in soccer in each of the last two seasons, scoring 21 goals as a junior and an astounding 26 as a senior.
“He always worked hard and was always the leader,” said North Arlington head boys’ soccer coach Jesse Dembowski. “No doubt, his passion for the game was better than most. He was always just a phenomenal athlete. I knew he had the passion right away. He dominated the action 100 percent and always gave 100 percent effort all the time. It was always nice to know that when you needed Tyler, he was there. He did everything we asked of him. He was really the coach’s dream.”
Dembowski marveled at Krychkowski’s ability to score, even after he became a known commodity.
“He was being marked by two, sometimes three people and still broke away and scored,” Dembowski said. “It was amazing the way he was able to score with the way everyone was marking him. Besides being our best player, he was the one who fueled everyone else and helped them give the extra effort. It’s going to be very hard to replace someone like him.”
Krychkowski ended his soccer career with more than 90 goals scored in his four years.
North Arlington basketball coach Dave Walsh, who also coached Gross and Santos during their basketball careers, liked the way Krychkowski developed into a 1,000-point performer.
“You really have to be willing to make huge sacrifices to be able to do well in all three sports,” Walsh said. “I happen to know what that’s like (Walsh played football, basketball and baseball during his days at North Arlington). It’s not easy. Most kids now play soccer all year round, but Tyler was with us when we went to team camp at William Paterson in the summer. He gave it his all. He just evolved and got better.
Added Walsh, “He was a nice player, but like the fourth option when he was a sophomore, but then quickly became the main option his junior and senior year. That had to be difficult for him, because we had different players each time, but he changed the way he played to fit the team each year. He became a better all-around player and learned to pass instead of just shooting it.”
When Joe Cioffi became the head boys’ track and field coach at North Arlington two years ago, he didn’t know much about Krychkowski’s ability in track.
“But the one thing I did know about Tyler is that he was a pleasure to have,” Cioffi said. “I knew he was a leader. He brought a high level of energy and it was amazing to see, to have someone who could do that from August to June and never stopped. I never had to worry about where he was at. He always worked hard. Every event he did for two years, he got better.”
Krychkowski ended up setting new school records in the triple jump and in two relays. He competed in the long jump, triple jump and 400-meter intermediate hurdles – an event he tried for the first time at the Bergen County meet and finished third in his first attempt.
“He even started throwing the javelin by the end of the year,” Cioffi said. “He was just a tremendous athlete. I think a lot of what he was able to do comes with his maturity. He just took charge and did what he had to do every time. It was a remarkable thing to watch, seeing a kid work so hard and do so well. He’s just an exceptional kid.”
Walsh marveled at Krychkowski’s development.
“He really maximized his potential,” Walsh said. “I think it takes a special kid to be willing to be part of all three sports, but then to do that well? He’s a popular kid. He was good in all three. I think it’s one thing to be a part-time player in three sports, but it’s another to be good enough to contribute in all three. It’s pretty remarkable. We’ve been fortunate at North Arlington to have a few like that. Santos and Tyler had very similar careers.”
Krychkowski will now go on to attend New Jersey City University like his older brother. He will definitely play soccer there and may try out for the basketball team, depending on his schedule.
He was asked if losing his father early was a motivation.
“I think it made me work harder and push myself more,” Krychkowski said. “I know he would be very proud. I just wanted to be good at something. I didn’t know how good I’d become.”
Good enough to be The Observer Male Athlete of the Year.