SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Tyler Kwinta's road to the NCAA scene was not as straightforward as many other recruits.
"Our high school doesn't sponsor a team," Kwinta said. "I had to put in lots of work and I had to do multiple things just to keep up with the level of kids who are playing in high school. I would play at my house all the time. I would play outside with my dad, my sisters and everyone who I could play with I just kept playing."
During his journey, he even played at the club level for Warren Six Pack Volleyball, driving 45 minutes each way four days a week. But finally, all the hard work paid off. Friday afternoon, in the gym at St. James the Apostle School, Kwinta put pen to paper and signed his letter of intent to play the sport for Sacred Heart University.
For Kwinta, signing in the St. James gym was no accident. That gym holds particular meaning for him as he started his career there, something he noted in his interview.
"My cousins taught me how to play volleyball first, and then I started St. James in fifth grade, playing co-ed volleyball," Kwinta said. "And I just took it from there and started playing club in high school...It's kind of fitting that this is where I sign, because it's where it started, and I'm going to always remember I started my volleyball career here."
Pat Dolansky, Kwinta's former head coach and principal at St. James was there to watch her former charge sign and commit. For Dolansky, this moment has been a long time coming, ever since a young Kwinta first hung around during his older sister's practices.
She said that Kwinta's desire to play led him to help shag balls and practice serve with the girls' team until the school found a co-ed league where he could play in fifth grade. And once he started playing, she said people took notice.
"I could not walk off the court without every up judge and line judge telling me what a great player he was going to be...They saw it and they knew it that he was going to be something to reckon with," Dolansky said. "So it was a great pleasure to have him."
And for Loviisa Kwinta, Tyler's mother, the signing ceremony was exciting, especially since this had been her son's dream for quite some time.
"I'm very excited for him because it's been his dream since he was little, to come to Sacred Heart," Kwinta said. "It's actually the first school that we went to go visit. So for him to finally accomplish what he wanted to and attend a school that he's dreamed of, I'm happy for him."
Kwinta noted that it was fitting for the signing ceremony to take place in the gym where his love of the game started. She also said that as his mother, she was so proud of him and all he had accomplished.