When Tom Schickling and Mike Ginley take a look at Dylan and Tyler McHugh, beaming smiles fill their faces. When you’re involved in CYO athletics as long as Schickling and Ginley have been, this type of reaction is inevitable when things swing back around full-circle.
Schickling is the athletic director of St. Matthew Parish in Mayfair, as well as the school’s varsity high school CYO coach, while Ginley, involved in St. Matt’s basketball since he was 19, has been its grade school counterpart for the last 10 years. During their time at their respective positions, Schickling and Ginley have coached tons of kids, some of whom stay involved with parish athletics after their playing days have come and gone.
The McHugh brothers are examples of this. Shining ones, in fact.
Tyler (St. Matthew Class of 2006, Father Judge Class of 2010) and Dylan (2008, 2012) grew up in the neighborhood, playing for Ginley as grade school players and for Schickling at the high school level. Each player won an Archdiocesan CYO championship under Schickling in their senior years.
Now, the brothers coach the St. Matthew high school JV basketball program, opting to give back to their community the same way Schickling and Ginley have for years. On Sunday, Tyler and Dylan completed their second season in charge of the program, completing a perfect 19-0 season that culminated in their own Archdiocesan championship as coaches at Father Judge’s Fox Gymnasium. When the final buzzer sounded in St. Matthew’s 57-41 win over St. Maximilian Kolbe of West Chester, the brothers’ elders were filled with pride.
“I’ve been here for 25 years,” Ginley said. “It’s a cycle. We ask kids every year when they graduate to come back and help out. Our doors are always open. You don’t get that at a lot of other schools. It’s not just parents coaching their kids and rotating through. We’ve had a structure for a long time, a family atmosphere, so to see these young guys come back and help is just a great thing.”
Added Schickling: “We always talk about the parish and school being the center of our neighborhood. Most of the people who grow up here stay in the neighborhood and re-invest their belief in St. Matt’s. It always seems to revitalize itself. There’s never a shortage of people to help whenever you need anything. There’s a constant outpouring of support.”
For Tyler and Dylan, the decision to stay involved was a no-brainer, as the school building and gymnasium were places of personal betterment for themselves. When Dylan was cut from the Father Judge basketball team as a sophomore, Schickling offered him an outlet where he could still compete at a high level against kids his own age. After Tyler graduated (St. Matt’s posted a 21-2 record his senior season), he came back two years later and assisted Schickling during Dylan’s senior campaign, when St. Matt’s went 21-4 and advanced to the final eight of the state tournament (there are no state playoffs at the JV level).
In the two years since the brothers took over the JV program, they have posted a 33-2 record.
“The kids have fun,” said Dylan, 20. “It’s a place where you can come and mess around a bit, not like a high school team where you come in and it’s a full-time job. But they also take it seriously. Tyler and I each have banners hanging in the gym from when we won, and our kids have said all along how they wanted that for themselves. When you go through this school and basketball program, you become a man at a certain point. We take some pride in giving back and coaching these kids. They like us, and we like them.”
“It’s a great feeling,” Tyler, 23, added. “We both won championships here as players, and it’s always a great thing to be able to look back on that later in life. It gives you something to talk about, something to remember fondly.”
In their first season on the job, Tyler and Dylan’s team went 14-2 and reached the Archdiocesan Region One semifinals.
“Before we did it together, I was only with Mr. Schickling for a year, so it was still pretty new to the both of us,” Tyler said of the player-to-coach transition. “But we worked through it together. We don’t bump heads.”
Despite Tyler being taller — and thusly, a big man in his playing days — and Dylan being more of a shooting guard, one might think their X’s and O’s approach to the game might clash, but this hasn’t been the case.
“He (Tyler) was a big man, so I always try to tell our guys to dump it inside,” Dylan said. “But they’re kids, so they’re going to keep on shooting. If they’re open, I tell them to shoot, but that’s only because I was always a shooter. We love coming here and practicing with them. Sometimes we run with them. It’s all neighborhood kids, just like us. We have a connection now, and we’re all close. They want to learn, they want to have fun and they want to win. I think they all deserve it.”
“I think they showed what they are made of,” Schickling added. “They’re a team. They don’t rely on just one guy … they rely on each other. I think there’s no question who Dylan and Tyler were as players played a large role in this team’s success. They’re young enough where the kids have a comfort level with them, but old enough to have had some success the kids can strive toward.”
The greatest thing, in Schickling’s mind, is how cyclical the process has become. He has been a member of St. Matthew Parish since 1987, and raised his own family in the neighborhood. Tyler McHugh recently bought a house in the area, and Schickling hopes one day Tyler and Dylan’s kids get to compete for their own athletic glories.
“These guys, they just got it from an early age,” Schickling said. “They are trusted leaders in the community. Without getting too syrupy, it’s just a great place to live and raise kids, and we’re bolstered by the people that live in the neighborhood.
“It’s not the easiest thing to corral freshmen and sophomores and go in one direction, and they did it with respect and focus. I told all the kids after Sunday’s game how proud I was of them. The most important thing is they represented their school and parish in the best way possible. Even if they had lost, that would still hold true, but they did it with class and by winning every game, and that’s really all you can ask for.” ••