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Athlete Spotlight: Matt Schultz

03/30/2020, 10:00am CDT
By Chris Rathje

"I like the fact that you have to play together, and learn to rely, and trust someone else and together, get the job done."

Matt is a senior who finished his final season as a Nebraska Red Dawg. Matt’s other athletic pursuits include competing for his high school in wheelchair track and field.  Matt competes for Southeast Polk High School where he throws shot put and competes in 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter races.

Outside of sports, Matt has many interests including working on classic muscle cars and training service dogs with an organization called the Puppy Jake Foundation. 

Matt lives with his family in Des Moines, Iowa, so it means a large commitment to him and his family to go to Omaha every Saturday.  When I asked Matt about how traveling to Omaha and being part of the Red Dawgs has changed his life, this is how he responded:  

“Every Saturday during the season, I travel roughly 2 and a half hours every Saturday morning. This has changed my life as I feel like a new person, who is outgoing and more friendly towards others.  Mom made a deal with me that if I wanted to play wheelchair basketball and she was giving up her Saturdays, I would bring home good grades.  My last GPA was 3.5.  We both have kept our share of the deal.  I am a better student and a well rounded athlete." 

When I asked Matt if he had anything he would like to share, here was his piece of advice:

“Don’t give up, each challenge is just a stepping stone.”

Matt’s wheelchair basketball career isn’t over yet. He will be attending the University of Nebraska Omaha next year. “Having an opportunity to play at the higher level means so much to me. It represents the hard work that I have put in both on the court and in the classroom,” Schultz said.

When I asked the future athletic training major what his favorite aspect of wheelchair basketball is Matt told me, “I like the fact that you have to play together, and learn to rely, and trust someone else and together, get the job done.”

Thank you for your great perspective Matt. Thank you to Matt Schultz and his family for allowing me to write about him.  The NWBA Junior Division appreciates being part of your journey.

About the Author, Chris Rathje

Rathje started his adaptive athletics career in the third grade as a member of the Windy City Warriors in suburban Chicago. In 1993 Rathje was one of the original members of the prep team the Junior Wheelchair Bulls.

When it was time to play varsity competition Rathje went on to play for the RIC Spalding Bulldogs which was the precursor to the Chicago Skyhawks. Rathje played four years in the College Division at the University of Illinois.

In 2012, Rathje returned to the wheelchair basketball community to coach the Windy City Warriors alongside his college roommate, and current Auburn head coach, Robb Taylor.  

From 2013-2019 Rathje volunteered for the Junior Division as educational liaison, vice president and president of the Junior Division.  He looks forward to sharing stories that will hopefully open doors for student athletes with physical disabilities. 

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