By Heather Brown

NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (WCCO) — The strain of shoveling all that snow may have been too much for a New Prague Middle School teacher.

Matt Shetka, 54, was shoveling snow at home Sunday afternoon when he collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack. It shocked the community losing a popular teacher and a dominant coach.

“It’s hard to understand,” said principal Tim Dittberner. “I don’t care at what age, but especially at that age, too.”

Shetka’s girls’ golf teams won two of the last three state titles.

His gymnastics teams won championships in 1984, 2001, 2003 and they’re favored again this season.

“New Prague School has got nine state championships and he’s coached two sports to five state championships, so he’s got five of nine,” said Dittberner. “So, he’s been very successful.”

The gymnastics team will gather in the gym Monday night, but it will be more about mourning and healing than any kind of practicing.

“It’s probably not going to be our most productive practice, but it might be probably the most important practice they’ve had in a while,” said athletic director Brad Skogerboe.

The team will try to find ways to honor the man who gave so much over the last 33 years. They will be definitely wearing violets, which is to honor a song he used to sing to them. They will also likely dedicate the their season to him — no matter how uncomfortable that would probably make him.

“He’s not one that would be in the forefront. Kids were always in the forefront,” said gymnastics coach Doug Amundsen. “That’s his legacy — the kids.”

Shetka leaves behind a wife and four adult sons.


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