All-time great linebacker Matt Beck to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Editor’s note: This is the ninth installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.
Matt Beck had all the measurables a football coach could want in a linebacker.
During his playing days, Beck was big, strong, fast and had a knack for getting to the ball carrier. Add in his passion for the game and desire to win and the result is a Hall of Fame career that has its own place in Nevada Union football history.
“Those were special years in my life and I’m very thankful that my mom moved us there,” said Beck of his time at Nevada Union High School. “Those four years really set the tone for what I’ve done since.”
Beck spent the early part of his childhood in Fairfield, but moved to Nevada County with his mother just two days before the start of his freshman year at Nevada Union.
Beck didn’t know any of his classmates at Nevada Union. So, at his mother’s urging and in an effort to make friends, he went out for the football team, despite having never played in an organized league before. From there, he made great friends as well as hundreds of tackles on his way to becoming one of the all-time great linebackers in Nevada Union football history.
For his efforts on the gridiron in high school and beyond, Beck is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 28.
“Matt was one of the most dominating linebackers we ever had,” said Dave Humphers, who coached Beck on the NU football team. “He was big at 6-foot, 4-inches, and one of our fastest players. He could really run, and he had an amazing nose for the ball. It was really fun to turn him loose and see him fly around and make plays.”
Beck was a three-year starter on the varsity team, getting called up to play at the highest level of the program as a sophomore. In addition to being a ferocious defender, he also had skill with the ball in his hands and started as a running back on offense.
As a junior, Beck was a key cog for the Miners, helping the team to its very first Sac-Joaquin Section Championship in 1993.
While wearing the Miners’ blue and gold, Beck was at the center of a two-year section championship run, was named the 1994 Capital Athletic League Defensive Player of the Year, made the 1994 All-Metro First Team and was Second Team All-State.
Beck’s on-the-field prowess is legendary and his achievements are many, but it wasn’t an easy path to success for the 1995 Nevada Union graduate.
By his own admission, he was a bit of a trouble-maker in his first couple years of high school.
“I was a little unsupervised and a little undisciplined, so I didn’t have the best conduct at school,” he said. “I was probably showing off, trying to earn friends, so I got in a lot of trouble those first couple years, and Coach Humphers really straightened me out. Coach Humphers is one of the great mentors of my life. He really got me on the right track and it wasn’t easy.”
With the help of Humphers and a host of other positive role models, Beck found his focus and went on to have a highly successful senior year. He set a then school record for tackles in a season with 110 and played a major role in the Miners winning a second straight section title.
“That was a huge, pivotal moment for me,” Beck said. “(Humphers) challenged me, I anted up and came back to have a great senior year.”
Back added there were several mentors at Nevada Union that helped him find his path to success, including Sig Ostrom, Mike Massari, Dick Hotchkiss, Joe Hart and Kelly Graham.
The talented linebacker’s skill on the field coupled with his improving focus in the classroom earned him a full-ride scholarship to attend and play football at the University of California, Berkeley.
While at Cal, Beck was a four-year starter at linebacker and a three-time All-Pac-10 Selection (1996, 1997, 1998). He was a two-time team captain for the Golden Bears, amassed 239 career tackles, including 48 for a loss, which is ranked seventh all-time at the school.
Along the way, Beck earned a Master’s degree in education from Cal, and later added another Master’s degree from San Francisco State.
Despite an injury that cut his senior season at Cal short, Beck still found a spot in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.
He would spend a year with the Rams, but an injury landed him on the IR for the year.
Beck then moved into the role of coach, taking up as an assistant with high school powerhouse De La Salle and winning a national championship with them in 2003. He then took a job as an assistant coach at City College of San Francisco, helping those teams win two NorCal championships. Beck then made his way back to Cal where he was an assistant for three years, helping the Golden Bears win a pair of bowl games.
Beck has since left coaching at the higher levels of football, but noted that he still stays involved in sports by coaching his children’s athletic teams. He and his wife of 15 years, Amanda, have three children.
He added he also gets to be coach of sorts in his current job, as the head of a sales team for a medical device and manufacturing company.
Beck said he’s honored to be inducted with the Class of 2018, alongside several of his teammates from those championship teams.
“The number one thing for me in high school is that we won,” he said. “It was really the only time in my playing career that we won.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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