March 1, 2006
ROUTE FSU: ROAD TRIP
This is a special edition feature that we like to call Road Trip: FSU Style. Throughout the 2006 season, Seminoles.com will visit each player’s hometown (and country) to find out what life is really like back at home. We’ll sit down with their families, visit local restaurants, and feature pretty much everything you need to know. By Ryan Liss, SID Intern
To Travel from Marathon to Warsaw…we need a “Magic” carpet…
The “Maciek” Touch
The second-tallest player on the Seminole tennis team, Maciek Sykut (goes by the name “Magic”) is one of the most decorated incoming freshmen in the history of Seminole tennis. After moving to Marathon, Fla., at age seven from Warsaw, Poland, Maciek picked up a racket and never looked back. He has played in 42 tournaments worldwide in his young career, and in the last 24, brought home 10 singles and doubles championships. At one point in 2003, Maciek won four straight titles. Of all his awards, he is most proud of the state 1A championship he helped bring to Marathon High, their first state championship in any sport in over 25 years. However, Maciek most loves and respects his heritage, and always enjoys a chance to discuss the city where his family is, and one of two places he likes to call home. The way he arrived to the United States was quite an interesting story. When he was seven years old his mother won a U.S. visa in the lottery and thus his family had exactly one year to relocate to the United States. Originally they chose Chicago (see fun facts listed below) but decided the climate was much warmer in Florida. And as they say, well, the rest is history…
Some knowledge on Marathon, FL and Warsaw, Poland
Population: 10, 002
Location: One hour from Key Largo and Key West, in Monroe County
Nickname: Heart of the Florida Keys
Fun Fact: The name Marathon came about by the railroad workers who were working night and day to complete the railway. Due to the unrelenting pace and struggle to complete the project, the popular exclamation, “This is getting to be a real Marathon“, is how the name originated.
Today’s forecast in Marathon: 81 degrees
Location: On the Vistula River, 350km from the Baltic Sea coast and the Carpathian Mountains
Industries: Steel, electric engineering, manufacturing, and automotive.
Fast Fact: Warsaw is the largest city and capital of Poland
Fun Fact: While Warsaw, Poland has the largest Polish population, Chicago, Illinois boasts of having the world’s second largest number of Polish residents.
Parents: Joanna and Martin
Siblings: Older sister Kate
Pets: Max (Chocolate Lab)
Pictured is Maciek and his mom in Poland.
A Tale of Two Cities
- What do you do for fun back in Marathon?
Since I live on an island, I usually just go out to the beach, depending on the weather.
- Describe the lifestyle in Warsaw.
Everything is constantly changing. The city is expanding so much. There are so many people, so everything’s growing. It’s definitely getting busier. The main problem is the streets are so small, and we do drive on the right side of the road. It’s an old town, with lot of history. Outside the city, you can enjoy the country life more.
- What is your favorite memory about your hometowns?
In Marathon it would probably be when I won the state tennis championship and brought it back to our school, which they haven’t done in any sport in over 25 years. It was a big deal, it was real fun. It was the one time the whole school was excited, and the town made a big deal of it.
From Poland, it’s just so different than the Florida Keys. It’s like the total opposite. You got the country and the mountains, and it’s just really different.
- How did you get involved in sports?
I come from a skiing family, so I was skiing when I was young, about three. In the summers you can’t ski, so my dad actually has his own tennis club back in Poland, and I’ve been around the courts since I was real little, so I was always around tennis balls. When we moved to the states, we started hitting it more. By the time I was nine, I was playing, and the rest is history.
- Describe Warsaw and Marathon for us.
I’m from Warsaw, so I’m from the city, and it’s the capital. You got the skyscrapers, and everything is changing since I moved out when I was seven. Buildings are getting bigger, but when you go outside the city, it’s real beautiful. There are plains, wildflowers, and fresh air. You got mountains if you want. You got the sea, so you can get a little bit of everything. We do a lot of walking, or you can take the city bus or city train.
A photo of Marathon, Fla.
In Marathon, it’s pretty much a five mile island. Access to water is two minutes away. You can just hop in from your backyard. Everyone’s got a boat, everything’s so laid back. Everything is about taking it easy, “Jimmy Buffett” style. I really like both though. The weather is so nice, so you can take a bike and enjoy the weather and the cool breezes. We do get hurricanes, but we are a lot smaller than the mainland. It is better than California, because you can predict a hurricane, but you can’t predict an earthquake.
- Do you have any traditions in Warsaw?
The only tradition that comes to my head is in Poland is on Christmas Eve we open our presents, instead of on Christmas day like back in the states. We don’t have a Macy’s Day Parade (laughing).
- When you go back home, are you looked at as a celebrity?
Nobody really knows me back in Poland, except family, obviously. Back in Marathon, it was nice to bring back the state championship. It was a big deal, but I wouldn’t think of myself as a celebrity.
- What do you miss most about your home when you’re at school or traveling?
The biggest thing I miss is my family. Every time I go back home, I get treated awesome. I don’t get to see my parents that much. I didn’t get to see them that much when I lived back in Marathon, and I haven’t been back to Poland in a long time, but even when I was in Marathon, I was always traveling to tournaments. It is always nice to get home, see family, and get to relax a little bit. In Poland, I miss the home cooking. Grandma and Great-Grandma treat me like a king.
- If you’re a travel agent, how do you get people to want to visit your hometown?
There is so much history in Poland. In Warsaw, you got the city atmosphere. You can go skiing in the winter or play sports in the summer. There is a little bit of everything. You got the country, the mountains, and the city. We also have great food. You can’t beat the food in Poland.
If you come to Marathon, fishing is the biggest industry. So, if you like fishing, or you like water sports, this is definitely a place to be. The weather is like 60-65 degrees in the winter, so if you like warm weather, come to Marathon. Enjoy the water, and the laid back atmosphere.
This is a picture Maciek took from his camera in Poland.