Besting Last Season One Sport At A Time
Moorhead’s Matt Bye
By Tomi Thompson
For Moorhead High School senior Matt Bye, sports have been a lifelong love and a way to learn lessons about what’s really important in life, always giving him a constant reason to improve.
Bye says his earliest memories of sports come from family time with his two older brothers. “I remember watching them play football, basketball, baseball, whatever it was when we were younger, and playing sports with them in the driveway growing up. That’s mostly what I did in my free time.”
After beginning to play organized sports of his own, Bye has become a standout in the Moorhead athletic program. The three-sport athlete has spent several years at Moorhead High School living in the seasons of football, basketball, and track.
Bye began traveling with the Varsity football team his freshman year of high school. He’s been a part of an undefeated season, a trip to a state tournament, and back to back trips to the section championship game in his sophomore and junior year, each ending in a loss. As a senior, Bye hopes the third time is the charm, and the football team is able to win a section championship this season and have a run at state.
At the end of his sophomore season of basketball, Bye was a starter for the Spuds, and finished the season with a win-loss record around .500. His junior year, the Spuds finished the season with a record of 20-6. Improving from season to season seems to be a theme with Bye, and he hopes his senior year of basketball will bring continued success.
Spring brings track season. Bye’s sophomore season ended with him placing 5th in state in the 110 Meter Hurdles. Bye was injured this past track season, but plans on working hard to take another run at the state meet during his senior year.
Bye says each sport that he plays comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities.
“Football is a social sport. There’s so many guys out there that you’re always with people, and I like the comradery of it. In basketball, the team is smaller, so you’re going to be more closely knit with those people,” he continues. “The guys this last season, I’ve been playing with them for three or four years. You just get to know people really well.” About track, he concludes, “You get to compete with yourself. You get timed, you want to beat that time every meet, and you work towards that the entire season.”
With his final high school football season already underway, Bye hopes to have another strong showing as the team’s quarterback. He says the position has some added stress, but he’s learned how to play with a level head.
“There’s a lot of pressure, especially with our team. We’ve been successful in the last few years so we’re expected to keep that going. I try not to pay attention to all the pressure and just play the best I feel I can play,” he says. “There is added pressure to not make mistakes, and how many touchdowns are you going to throw and all of that stuff, but I just try to do my job and if I need to give it to somebody else and let them run with it, that’s what I’ll do.”
Bye says he tries to have an even-tempered demeanor on the field and court. “I’d like to say I’m pretty easy-going. During football games I’m probably a little more hyped up. Definitely during basketball games, every once in a while, I’ll crack a couple of jokes on the court and try to ease the mood for everybody.”
Always keeping a positive attitude about life and in sports is something that Bye says his parents instilled in him from a young age.
“Ever since I was little my Dad and Mom would always tell me that if you have a bad mood toward something, nothing good will happen, so I just try to keep a good attitude towards everything and stay happy while I’m playing.”
Bye says he looks to his middle brother, Erik, a 2012 Moorhead High School graduate, as one of his biggest inspirations in athletics. “He had good friends, played all three sports and was pretty successful in them, and he maintained his grades in the classroom.”
As an older brother, Erik said he may have contributed to some of Matt’s toughness in sports. “At home we’d obviously roughhouse and play football, play in the house and everywhere that we weren’t supposed to. Matt was always the littlest one, and I guess we kind of picked on him when we were younger, but I think that toughened him up a little bit.”
Erik also says he believes Matt’s mental toughness contributes to his success.
“I think he has the right mentality to be successful. He’s obviously got a lot of self-confidence, but he also has a drive to get better every day. Even when we go on vacations and hang out with family on the weekend he’s always talking about what his team can do and what he can do to better prepare for the season. He always gets excited about new plays and different strategies that their team is going to do this season. I think the fact that he’s always thinking about how he can be better and how he can make his team better is the thing that sets him apart,” Erik said.
Bye believes a strong team dynamic is a huge contributor to a team’s success. “If you don’t have a good friendship, or you’re not a tight knit group, I think it makes it that much harder, it’s just one more thing you have to overcome to be good. If you are close knit and everybody has the same goal and team chemistry is there, you don’t have to worry about how well you’re going to play with each other. You know that’s going to be there. You can focus on playing against the other team.”
One of the lessons Bye has learned about sports, and life, is his belief that you get out what you put into it. “If you’re not willing to put in a lot, you shouldn’t expect a whole lot out of it. I find that with sports and with school as well. If you’re not going to do your homework and even try to study a little bit, you can’t expect to get good grades.”
Bye says one of the best things about sports is having the opportunity to meet people. Through connections made in sports, Bye has had many experiences that translate into life beyond the field.
Earlier this year, Bye’s good friend and AAU teammate Zach Kvalvog was tragically killed in a car accident alongside Zach’s little brother Connor. The Park Christian students were traveling to a basketball tournament in Wisconsin when the accident occurred.
Bye says he was able to learn lessons from Zach about competition and playing with heart. “He was one of the most serious competitors I’ve ever known. I’ve learned things from him about always competing no matter what the situation is, and always believing that anything is possible.”
Losing a friend and teammate was tough for Bye, but he was able to take a valuable lesson away from the way Zach lived his life.
“It teaches you you’ve got to live every day like it’s your last, whether you’re in sports or not in sports. If you’re in sports, you’ve got to play like it’s your last game. Zach was one of those guys who lived every day like it was his last and played every game like it was his last regardless of the situation; or if it was a good day or bad for him.”
Bye has no set plans for school after he graduates, but he hopes to continue playing sports at a college level.
With his senior year officially underway, Bye says that he just wants to enjoy it as it happens, and leave behind something to inspire other athletes that follow him.
“Everybody said it would go by fast, and it has gone by fast. I’m just trying to get everything I can out of it,” he says. “I’m probably going to be a little nostalgic and sentimental about some things, but I’m just going to try and go with it, stay in the moment, and not try to worry about too many things.”
As he approaches each new season this year, Matt says, “I’ll try to leave behind a good work ethic for the younger guys and the willingness to do the things that need to be done to get better.”