Coach Matthew Musiel has always had a passion for track. As his passion for track grew early in his childhood, it led him into coaching. For Musiel, it’s always been about giving back the knowledge he had learned, to students who aspire to coach.
Musiel has spent 34 years total as a cross-country and track coach, 14 at Bellevue West High School and 20 at Lincoln North Star. Musiel has always been involved in track for as long as he can remember. But it took an opportunity offered to him to really realize that he could teach and share what he learned as a track coach to other student aspiring to coach someday.
Musiel started running in kindergarten and through his years in elementary school, he said he was one of the fastest kids in his class. Around sixth grade, he was introduced to track as his parents took him to summer track meets. From there, Musiel said he knew he wanted to do something within sports entering college. He majored in sports broadcasting at Augustana University until his sophomore year, when he switched majors from sports broadcasting to education and took education and coaching classes.
“In teaching, that kind of led to coaching and realizing that I wanted to still coach, you know, and teach,” Musiel said. “So, it went from there. So yeah, I knew deep down that I wanted to teach and coach. ”
One of Musiel’s biggest coaching mentors was his high school track coach Fred Lambley, who got Musiel thinking about the possibility of coaching and taught him a lot about being a coach.
“He was probably one of the bigger influences on me too, said Musiel.” Lambley Just really got me involved with cross country and track and was a major role model for me and kind of a second dad at that time.”
Around eight to 10 years ago Musiel decided to teach a track coaching class at UNL. But wasn’t sure about teaching a coaching class when he was first contacted by the university. At first, Musiel said he wasn’t sure about it.
“I thought I really want to do it, but I’ve never really done anything like that before,” he said. “I mean, I’ve spoken at clinics and camps, but not it’s not the same as teaching a class at UNL.”
Ever since that first year of teaching at UNL, Musiel has really looked forward to teaching every spring even with a busy schedule during the track season.
“It’s very exhausting and time-consuming but you know I’ve learned to handle, both at teaching day at school and then coaching and then going teaching another class, said Musiel.” I’ve learned, time management and it’s just one night class a week.”
Musiel said his goal for the class is for students to gain an appreciation for track and develop some basic knowledge of track and field. Also, learn some of the essentials like a coaching philosophy as every coach has one including the importance of time management in the off-season and being able to communicate with student-athlete’s parents and other coaches.
“Gaining appreciation. And the knowledge of track and field. There are so many of them. That is out there. And just appreciate the hard work and the sacrifice and to Just gain an appreciation of the sport. You know, we need good teachers and coaches out there to continue this, for sure said Musiel.”
Musiel said his track coaching class is designed to help outline and set the foundation for being a track coach. The class highlights different track events and includes guest speakers with coaches who have coached track that come in and share their knowledge with students.
One of those coaches was Johnny Hower who shared his experiences as a former assistant coach under Musiel and current track head coach at Lincoln Northwest.
“I think that coaching courses are a must said, Hower.” Something that you absolutely should have as a part of like requirements for being a coach.”
Hower believes that it’s important for every person who’s interested in coaching to take a coaching class. He believes it sharpens and reaffirms what you’re educated in and connects you to possible other coaches.
“As a teacher, and as a coach, you had to come up with your core values said Hower.” I didn’t really think about that naturally on my own. I had to have people be like, hey, as a coach, you must think about your core values and your mission statement. Hey, have you thought about how to handle a situation when a parent does XYZ? So, I think that coaching courses have helped me and are something that absolutely everyone should take.”
Hower said that coaching classes in college helped him learn and gain that coaching knowledge rather than having to learn on the fly.
“The class really help me learn about different field events mainly and different running events that I just really had no idea about said Zach Pauley.”
Zach Pauley a current student in Musiel’s coaching track class. Zach says he’s learned a lot from the class like different field events and different coaching aspects.
“I mean, any professor, any teacher at the university is really great and they are, most of them are good teachers said, Zach.” But the great thing about Musiel is he’s got this outside perspective of high school coaching and he’s got so much expertise with it and has been through it.”
Pauley said he appreciate seeing other coaches brought in like Hower and has enjoyed having Musiel as the class instructor.
“It’s very satisfying to help the next younger generation of coaches and teachers and others,” said Musiel. “You know, other majors, not just teachers, and coaches, but just kind of educate people on what track and field is so. But yeah, I was very honored and very happy that they gave me that opportunity. “
Musiel looks forward to continuing coaching, while also helping students to begin thinking about their own coaching journey.