CLASS OF 2019: Three-sport standout Josh Van Matre to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
With his commitment to hard work, his desire to lead and his dedication to team success, Josh Van Matre truly embodies what it means to be a Nevada Union Miner.
“I bleed blue and gold. Always have,” said Van Matre, who was a three-sport standout at Nevada Union.
Van Matre grew up idolizing the Miner athletes before him, so when it was his turn to represent Nevada Union as a member of the football, basketball and baseball teams, he did so with pride, integrity and passion.
“Josh is one of the best leaders of all-time,” said Dave Humphers, who coached Van Matre on the football team. “He connects so well with people. We had some very good teams and some hard-nosed players, and those teams needed strong leadership to keep them together and going the same direction. Josh was a great inside backer and tight end, but his greatest contributions may have been his leadership skills.”
Van Matre’s leadership skills coupled with his talent on the field made it easy for teammates to follow his lead.
“Josh is one of those born, natural leaders,” said Jefferson Heidelberger, who was a teammate of Van Matre’s on the football team. “He was a natural captain. He had a ton of confidence and understood how to bring along others. I think everyone who played with Josh was better for it.”
On the football field, Van Matre was a two-time captain on the varsity team, was the 1999 Capital Athletic League Defensive MVP, a two-time All-CAL First Team selection, an Optimist All-Star and the Miner’s Jim Brown Award winner as the team MVP.
Van Matre, who graduated from NU in 2000, was also a team captain on both the baseball and basketball teams as well. With the baseball team he was the starting catcher and also pitched. In basketball he was a power forward, often tasked with covering the opposing team’s top player.
If that wasn’t enough, Van Matre also was a member of Nevada Union’s competitive cheer team his senior year.
For his accomplishments during his playing days as well as dedication to Nevada Union throughout the years, Van Matre is being inducted into the NU Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.
“It’s a huge honor,” Van Matre said. “It’s pretty awesome. I got lucky that I got to play with a bunch of studs. We had a great class of athletes and a great class behind us. They made me good. My teammates made me good. I was a decent athlete who reaped the benefits of having a bunch of studs around me.”
When Van Matre looks back on his time at Nevada Union, his favorite memories include a big win over Elk Grove his senior season, being chosen for Optimist All-Star Football Game and coming up with a late interception to help his team grab the win, and upsetting a higher-seeded team in the playoffs in basketball.
But, what sticks with him more than anything else is the life lessons learned through sport along the way.
“Work ethic,” Van Matre said. “That’s what I learned. Whether it was school work, athletics or my daily life, if I work hard, good things will happen.
“We were taught to work harder than everyone else. Work like no one’s watching, because that was what was instilled in us. We’re not going to be the biggest, we’re not going to be the best, we were playing the likes of Grant and Del Campo, they are better than we are, but we are going to work harder than they are. So, when I got into college and out of college, I had the same approach. Just work harder than everyone and good things will happen.”
LIFE AFTER NU
Van Matre’s hard work at Nevada Union paid off with a scholarship to attend and play both football and baseball at Saint Peter’s College in New Jersey.
While competing for the Peacocks, he was a two-year player at linebacker on the football team and a two-year starter at catcher in baseball.
Van Matre was inducted into the Saint Peter’s Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the school’s 2001 football team which went 10-1. Van Matre was part of a Peacock defense that led the NCAA in five categories, including pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, turnover margin and pass defense.
While on the East Coast, Van Matre was also front and center for one of America’s greatest tragedies.
Van Matre was attending Saint Peter’s when the 9/11 attacks happened. Being the leader he is, Van Matre joined in the rescue effort at ground zero in the days following the attack.
After two years on the East Coast, Van Matre returned to Grass Valley and took a job at Caseywood, where he has worked for the past 19 years.
His dedication to Nevada Union remains as he currently coaches the Miners junior varsity basketball team. He was also an assistant coach for the football team from 2006-09 and provided color commentary for recent games through MinerVision.
“Getting to come full circle and be able to come back and coach is just awesome,” Van Matre said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s so much fun.”
He’s also the president of the Nevada City Little League where he also coaches.
Van Matre said he implements a lot of what he learned from his high school coaches into how he approaches the teams he runs.
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Van Matre looks back on his time at NU with great affinity and is quick to credit his past coaches and teammates for his success in athletics and life.
“It was four years of commitment and a lifetime of memories,” he said, quoting a common phrase around the NU football program. “But, it was a commitment. There was no wavering. You were either all in, or you were out.”
He also thanked his parents, Peter and Melody, as well as his siblings, Kayla and Jarad, for their love and support throughout his life.
Van Matre remains in Grass Valley with his wife, Nicole, and their three boys, Carter, Tanner and Parker.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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