State title-winning New Prague coach dies shoveling snow

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: December 10, 2012 - 9:27 PM

A popular teacher and championship-winning high school coach of girls sports in New Prague died while shoveling snow at his home, the School District said Monday.

Matt Shetka, 54, whose teams have earned five state titles, died Sunday from an apparent heart attack, said Larry Kauzlarich, superintendent of New Prague schools.

Shetka taught his entire 33-year career in the district, most recently as a middle school social studies instructor, Kauzlarich said.

His gymnastics teams won state titles in 1984, 2001 and 2003. His squads have finished second seven times, including last year. The team was considered one of the strongest in the state this year.

New Prague golf teams under his direction won state championships in 2010 and 2012.

"He was very dedicated and a very passionate guy," said Melissa Bernhard, the head gymnastics coach at Northfield, New Prague's biggest rival in the Missota Conference. "He put a lot of thought into everything he did. I enjoyed the competitiveness he brought to Minnesota gymnastics. He was successful and helped the girls grow and get better."

Beckie Rolbiecki, head gymnastics coach of Winona State and longtime head gymnastics coach at Winona High School, called Shetka's death a "major loss" for the sport.

"There wasn't a finer person that cared more about the kids and dedicated his life to making the gymnastics experience a quality one," Rolbiecki said. "He didn't care just about development, but he was the kind of coach that cared about the people involved. He was competitive, but that was good for gymnastics. It was a way of raising the bar for everybody else. We had to ask more of our kids, so he ended up making things better for all of us."

Shetka, who graduated from Bemidji State University, also was coaching middle school girl's volleyball at the time of his death.

Shetka's wife, Meg, teaches in the district at Eagle View Elementary School. They have four adult sons adult sons, Aaron, Dan, Andy and Zack.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Star Tribune staff writer Jim Paulsen contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737

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Matt Shetka