14 Iowa Conference team titles
PELLA — Steve Tyler is retiring from his duties as Central College’s men’s and women’s tennis coach.
Tyler led the Dutch men’s program for the past six seasons, compiling a 71-68 dual meet record with five top-four Iowa Conference team finishes, while leading the women’s squad for five seasons with a 48-42 mark.
A Fort Dodge, Iowa native, Tyler has more than 35 years experience as a coach and amateur player. But Central provided him his first full-time coaching position after a lengthy business career in Colorado and Wyoming.
“It’s been a dream come true for me to coach at the Division III level in the state where I was born,” he said. “Schools like Central serve a terrific purpose in education. They allow student-athletes to continue to work on their dreams, learn lifetime skills, stay fit, develop a strong work ethic and be more productive and self-satisfied.”
Tyler and his wife, Sandy, are moving to Peoria, Ill., where he’ll serve as a volunteer assistant to his son, Matt, the head men’s tennis coach at Bradley University.
“We can’t thank Coach Tyler enough for his service to Central College and to young men and women,” athletics director Eric Van Kley said. “Steve has been an integral part of our staff and we’ll sorely miss his contributions. We wish he and Sandy nothing but the best.”
Senior Kyle Freischlag (Downers Grove, Ill., South HS), one of the men’s team’s top players and a three-time academic all-Iowa Conference honoree, echoed Van Kley’s comments.
“I always admired Coach Tyler’s positive philosophy in everything he does,” Freischlag said. “He’s an extremely positive person and always has apt things to say to keep everything in perspective. He made sure the players enjoyed the process.”
Tyler remains an active player, winning numerous honors competing in sectional and national tournaments. He was the Missouri Valley division of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association’s men’s 55-and-over player of the year in 2010. He also been highly successful in father-son and father-daughter tournaments with son Matt and daughter Hilary Ritchie, an assistant women’s tennis coach at Rutgers University.
Van Kley said a national search is underway for a successor and that Tyler’s work helped make it an attractive position.
“Coach Tyler has done a tremendous job in positioning both programs for future success,” Van Kley said. “We feel great about the momentum he’s generated for the program.”