Former Nebraska right guard Matt Sichterman’s long athletic journey started with him playing almost all the sports that you can play as a kid who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The odds for Matt to make it to the Division I level in any of those sports is a mere 6%. Dan, Megan and Matt Sichterman defied the odds as all three of them went on to play their respective sport at the Division I level. All of their blood, sweat and tears paid off. However, that is not what is so unusual: they are triplets.
Sichterman liked football, along with his brother Dan, and the two spent countless hours perfecting their craft.
They played on the same youth sports team growing up and continued as teammates into high school. Matt chose to head to Lincoln, Nebraska to be a Cornhusker. Dan, heading in the same geological direction, picked Ames, Iowa to play tight end for the Cyclones.
This past season, Matt started all 12 games for the Huskers at right guard. In the Huskers’ game against Fordham, Matt helped the ground game tally 427 yards and 657 yards of total offense. The 56 points scored in the Northwestern game marked the most points the Huskers scored in a Big Ten Conference game, in their 11 years in the conference.
“Playing at Nebraska was a dream come true for me,” Matt said. “I grew up in the Midwest and was always a huge Big Ten fan, so once I started getting recruited that is where my focus was. Once I saw the support that Nebraska fans give to the football program, and the amazing support staff that Nebraska student athletes get outside of their sport, I knew it was the right place for me.”
In addition to Matt and Dan, their sister Megan is a swimmer at Tennessee. She accomplished two All-American certificates in the 2020 and the 2021 season adding an All-SEC second team award in the 2021 season. Megan, also, swam to a bronze medal at the 2021 SEC championship as a member of the 200-yard freestyle relay that finished in a time of 1:28.00, a top-10 time in Tennessee history.
“It has truly been a blessing to have my siblings with me on similar journeys,” Matt said. “It is a unique experience because in life a lot of times you go through trials and tribulations and could feel alone, but I always had a built-in support system with my siblings going through similar things, highs and lows.”
The Sichtermans played on the same teams growing up because it saved Judy and Mark, their parents, multiple trips. The three of them played on the same baseball, basketball, and soccer teams growing up which grew their competitive energy with each other.
“Well I played pretty much every sport with my brother and my sister when we were really young but most of my experience through high school was playing with my brother,” Matt said. “I guess it was just more for fun. As we got older and developed in our respective sports my brother and I were able to work out together, diet together, and really push each other to be the best football/basketball players we could be.”
The trio have always been competitive with each other, while also, being unconditionally supportive.
Their parents focused more, while they grew up, on playing sports for the fun of it and not so much to get anything out of it. The trio said their parents made sure that they were enjoying what they are doing and never feeling pressure to play sports, which was a key to them playing their respective sports for as long as they have.
“They never put pressure on success,” Megan said. “The idea of having fun in sport and using sport for empowerment, confidence and to grow as a person rather than making it super success based, especially when we were super young. I know that helped us figure out what was important in sport and how we wanted to use it to grow as people.”
Megan said their parents also had an enticing offer for the triplets: ‘if you sign a letter of intent to play in college we will go to the nicest steakhouse in Cincinnati’. Mark and Judy, were not strangers to the college process as they competed in collegiate sports as well at Drake for football and Clemson for Swimming, respectively.
In Megan’s sport there is a scale to show if she would make it to a Division I sport. In Dan and Matt there were no specific benchmarks for them to accomplish to guarantee to play at the college level. In choosing to take their talents to the next level, their family was split across the country.
At Iowa State, Dan played in four bowl games. Megan was part of the Tennessee team that won the SEC championship in swim and dive.
The accomplishments of Matt was all because of his hard work but a lot comes from the support of his family.
During Matt’s five-year career, the Husker has gone through many high peaks as well as low valleys. Described by his sister, Megan, even with their busy schedule the three of them are more than supportive to each other. That support comes in the form of sports, facetime and calls.
“All five of our kids are actually very close, which is another blessing and warms our hearts,” Judy said. “We have family group chats, and use Facetime and other social media outlets to connect. On top of that, they’ve not only stayed close, but they’ve become friends with each others’ friends. So now they’re not only staying close to each other, but there’s a crowd involved.”
The trio, like their parents, all want to support each other as much as they can, especially in-person.
“I’m not sure if there were many weekends within the last five years that my parents weren’t traveling to one of our sporting events or planning their next trip,” Matt said. “I am very grateful for their love and support even though I chose a school that was pretty far away from home.”
Despite the lack of celebration for holidays the family has made the trip to respective areas to see big accomplishments. Megan and Dan both traveled to Lincoln to see Matt during his senior day and the care was reciprocated as Matt and Dan supported Megan with her senior day and graduation.
Mark and Judy, however, cannot be everywhere at once. At the beginning of the school years the loving parents sit down and put together a fair but equal spreadsheet to show where they will be throughout the year.
“Travel wasn’t always easy, but a labor of love,” Judy said. “Lincoln is 75(miles) from Cincinnati, Ames, Iowa is 598 miles and Knoxville is a four-hour drive. Mark had a spreadsheet showing the Husker and Cyclone schedules side by side and we chose the games to travel to. We’d often be driving home on a Sunday thinking, ‘Phew, we need to take a weekend off.’ But by Thursday of the next game week, we’d be saying, ‘OK, let’s go!’.”
The family is more than just sports as they have been by each other’s side all through the process of their collegiate careers.
As they all are now graduating and ending their college careers to go on to their respective jobs, Matt has moved to a job at Hudl. The Sichterman family looks back on their almost 22-year journey with the trio and enjoyed every second of it.