Posted at: 12/10/2012 6:30 PM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 7:54 AM
By: Ellen McNamara
A beloved teacher and coach in New Prague has died from an apparent heart attack while shoveling snow.
Matt Shetka was a veteran teacher in the district, and his teams were some of the best in the state.
The New Prague gymnastics gym is where state championships are won.
"New Prague has won nine state titles in the history of the school, and five were under his (Shetka's) leadership," New Prague Middle School Principal, Tim Dittberner said.
For 33 years, Coach Shetka devoted his life to his teams and students.
Shetka guided his gymnasts to three state titles, and helped his girls golf team win two state championships. He also coached middle school volleyball.
Like the empty gym, many who knew Coach Shetka feel empty.
"Our kids and staff are hurting, a lot of heavy hearts here, they are doing the best they can right now," Dittberner said.
Principal Dittberner held a somber staff meeting Monday.
The snow that blankets New Prague looks lovely, but the storm is a reminder of what contributed to Shetka's death.
"This last Friday, he was catching 115-120 lb. gymnasts flying through the air, and then shoveling snow he collapses, it just doesn't, there's no sense," Doug Amundsen said.
Amundsen is the other gymnastics coach. Amundsen says Shetka was his mentor.
Amundsen not only lost a coaching partner, but a friend. Coach Shetka's four sons lost a father, and his wife lost a devoted husband.
"He tried to get the best from you, he encouraged you to do the best you could do," Amundsen said.
"People will not forget Matt Shetka," Dittberner said. "He will always have a lasting legacy on the New Prague school and community."
Amundsen said now, more than ever, he and the rest of the gymnastics team want to get back to state for Coach Shetka.
A moment of silence is planned at all New Prague sporting events on Tuesday.