Edwardsville native shows character on and off the court

Matt Gregor, a senior business administration major, from Edwardsville, plays several different roles in the School of Business — but when Gregor isn’t working as a research assistant or supplemental instruction leader, he can be found on the pickleball court. 

Riza Demirer, a professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, said Gregor’s work as a supplemental instruction leader had a profound impact on one particular family.

“One day, I received an email from the grandma of a student with special needs, and [she was] thanking me for arranging Matt as a supplemental instructor, because without his help, [her] grandson would not be able to pass that course,” Demirer said. 

Demirer said Gregor’s generosity extends outside the classroom as well. According to Demirer, the Department of Economics and Finance gives annual awards to its highest-performing students; when Gregor learned he would receive money as part of his reward, Demirer said Gregor’s response was selfless.

“He emailed back to me, ‘Dr. Demirer ... I want to decline it, because I really don’t need the money, so you better give the money and the award to somebody else who needs it.’ And I’m like, ‘Look, Matt, it’s something you deserve; you’re our best student’ … That tells you about his personality. Not everybody does something like that,” Demirer said. 

According to Timothy Schoenecker, dean of the School of Business, Gregor was selected to speak on the school’s behalf based on his wide array of qualifications.

“He really hit all the marks … he has just a very excellent GPA. At the same time, he’s been involved in a couple activities outside the classroom,” Schoenecker said. “He also was a finance intern at WorldWide Technologies … so that sort of combination of academic excellence, good work experience and then showing that he cares about his fellow students made him, we thought, just an excellent choice for this.” 

When Gregor isn’t involved in one of his many business roles, he said he likes to play pickleball, a sport he discovered after continually losing tennis matches to his girlfriend, sophomore biomedical science major Natalie Karibian. Karibian went fifth in state her senior year at Edwardsville High School.

“She’d just kill me every single time. I didn’t win a single game, I think,” Gregor said. “And so one day we were playing together, and she was almost getting annoyed that I was so bad … and a couple people came up to us and said, ‘We have pickleball here, could you move down a court?’”

Gregor said he then noticed more people showing up to play pickleball and decided to talk to them about it.

“They asked me if I wanted to play, and so I was like, ‘Sure, yeah.’ I had never done it. I started playing then, and then they were like, ‘We have a club, we play about every day .. and so that’s kind of how I got into it,” Gregor said.

Even though Gregor is from Edwardsville, it wasn’t until he got into the sport that he realized Plummer Park has 12 dedicated pickleball courts. There are also multi-level out-of-state tournaments; those competing in pro-level tournaments can win cash prizes, while those competing in lower-level tournaments compete for gold, silver and bronze medals.

“You play at Plummer Park mostly, and then you can play tournaments,” Gregor said. “I played one tournament in [Festus, Missouri] a couple months ago … basically, you just sign up with a partner and you go play and hope to win gold [medals].”

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