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updated: 8/27/2011 11:36 PM

Antioch's Tylka answers chance to coach at Loyola

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A door of opportunity swung wide open for Jeff Tylka, forcing his hand.

Pursuing a dream job would mean getting rid of so many responsibilities that he embraced. At least the softball coach wouldn't have to throw out all his maroon-colored T-shirts and hoodies.

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In the end, Tylka made the difficult decision to pitch his job as a math teacher at Antioch Upper Grade School, where he just started his seventh year.

He decided he won't be chillin' with the Illinois Chill any longer.

He's also leaving his gig as assistant varsity boys basketball coach at Lakes.

"They're going to be good," Tylka said of head coach Chris Snyder's Eagles.

In Tylka's three years as Antioch's head softball coach, the Sequoits were better than good. They were exceptional.

But when Loyola University recently pitched him on a full-time assistant coaching position with its softball program, the multi-tasking Tylka knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

On Thursday, he accepted Loyola's offer, saying goodbye in the process to AUGS, Antioch and Lakes high schools and the Chill, the successful travel softball program with which he's helped coach.

At least he won't need an entire new wardrobe. Like Antioch, Loyola wears maroon as a dominant color.

"I still got a lot of maroon clothes that I can still wear to practice," Tylka said with a laugh.

Tylka will be joining the staff of Missy Beseres, who in her first season as Loyola's head coach last spring guided the Ramblers to 26 wins and the regular-season championship in the Horizon League. One of Beseres' players, strong-armed starting third baseman Lauren Moore, played for Tylka at Antioch.

Moore starred for Tylka's 2010 team that hit a state-record 51 home runs (7 by Moore) and finished third in the Class 3A state tournament. The Sequoits went 91-17 in Tylka's three seasons, winning the North Suburban Prairie Division each year and twice knocking off Lake Zurich in the conference championship game.

"It's definitely bittersweet because it's hard leaving something that you've worked so hard to build," said Tylka, whose Sequoits won a school-record 32 games in 2009 and duplicated the mark in 2010. "But it's always been a dream of mine to coach college softball, and it's something I can't pass up."

Tylka said he wasn't looking to move on.

"The (Loyola) job opened very late," he said. "The whole process took maybe two weeks."

He starts his new position the day after Labor Day, leaving behind a youth softball scene that has grown by leaps and bounds since he became involved with it.

"Our first summer camp we had 15 kids," Tylka said. "This year we had 68. The kids keep coming out. They're listening to everything I say and doing everything I ask them to do. It's amazing how much better they've become."

Tylka can keep wearing his maroon. It can remind him of what he's accomplished.

"It's a tough situation," he said. "Antioch's been my home for so long now."

jaguilar@dailyherald.com

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