Photo of Matt Kendall

Matt Kendall '13: Kicking For a Brighter Future

By Nick Watt '13

Matt Kendall '13 came into his freshman year at McKendree knowing what to expect. “McKendree was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “By choosing a smaller school, I knew I would get a quality education and meet many new people.”

When searching for a college, the elementary education major and football player had a very specific list of wants and needs. “I wanted to continue my football career at the college level while also obtaining a top tier education, McKendree was the perfect fit,” he said. “McKendree is always being recognized for its education program so deciding to come to school here was a no-brainer.”

Matt is on the verge of finally realizing his dream of becoming an educator, but his journey started well before his days at McKendree. “Both of my grandparents were educators, so the profession runs in my blood,” he said. “However, when I was in junior high, I had some of the greatest classroom experiences that I can remember. My teachers made a difference in my life and I still stay in touch with them to this day. I saw the differences they were making and I knew I could have the same effect on students’ lives. A lot of students come into college undecided on their major; I was positive on my major going into high school.”

Success for Matt has always been something he has strived for, both in his studies and on the field, “I think my greatest achievement at school would be my academic success.” He admits, “I was honored to be named to the All-Conference football team my senior season, but being named to the Academic All-Conference team meant just as much or even more to me.”

As the Bearcats kicker and punter during the 2012 season, Matt went six for seven in field goal attempts and had a perfect record in kicking for over 30-yards. Matt acknowledges that his career with the football team has contributed to this success, “Being able to play football was an absolute honor,” he said. “McKendree has such a rich tradition, I was lucky enough to help carry on that tradition to the next class of athletes. I am thankful to have played for Coach Poelker and to wear the purple and gold.”

Matt says there is no better feeling than making the walk down to Leemon Field and admits that doing it for the final time was very surreal. “Over the past four years, I had spent countless hours in the sun, snow, and rain prepping for those Saturday afternoon games,” he said. “Marching onto the field one last time with my brothers was an emotional experience, a moment I will always remember. I don’t know a better feeling than running onto the playing field, hearing the crowd yelling for the team.”

Now as a senior having played his last game for the Bearcats, he only sees the team building on the progress made since arriving in the GLVC. “I am very excited for the football program; they have a very bright future ahead of them,” he said. “I cannot wait to see them become successful at the Division II level. Within the next several years, I see McKendree’s football program being ranked and recognized on the national stage with the help of the new coaching staff and dedication of the current and future players.”

After graduation, Matt would ideally like to teach mathematics at the junior high level. In addition, he plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree in education administration. There is a clear sense of motivation as he states, “I have always been taught that if you’re not willing to give 110%, there is no point in competing. The same can be said for when I become a teacher. In order to give the students a proper education, I will have to give teaching my all everyday in the classroom.”