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State title-winning coach from New Prague dies

12/10/2012, 11:39pm CST
By PAUL WALSH and JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune staff writers

A popular New Prague teacher and state championship- winning high school coach of girls' sports died while shoveling snow at his home.


New Prague gymnastics and girls' golf coach Matt Shetka, 54, died while shoveling snow at his home Sunday.

A popular New Prague teacher and state championship- winning high school coach of girls' sports died while shoveling snow at his home.

Matt Shetka, 54, whose gymnastics and girls' golf 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 finished second seven times, including last year. This year's team is considered one of the state's strongest.

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

"He was very dedicated and a very passionate guy," said Melissa Bernhard, 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."

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."

Shetka, who graduated from Bemidji State University, also had been coaching middle school girls' volleyball.

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

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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