By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
In more than 40 years of coaching, Minnesota State’s Mark Schuck has seen and done a lot of memorable things. His most indelible memories have to do with the students he’s coached and the peers he has worked with.
Schuck, the head men’s track and cross country coach at MSU, announced his retirement this week effective at the end of the school year. He’s been in charge of the MSU program for 34 years and says the time is right for him to step down.
“It looks like the team is in pretty good shape right now so I felt this was the year to do it,” he said. “I’m 66 years old now and there are some other things I want do with my wife and with my life.”
Schuck says he still loves coaching but feels he’s had enough.
“I live on a lake, but I don’t even have a fishing license because I never have time to fish,” Schuck said. “I come from a family that’s big into hunting and fishing so I think that’s one thing I need to change. I used to do a lot of that when I was young so I guess I’m going back to my youth.”
Schuck is sure he won’t be sitting around idle after he steps down. He has 10 acres of lawn to mow at home, he has hobby horses to take care of, and he has five grandkids to keep him busy. Plus, he still intends to help out at track meets if they need him.
“I don’t see myself slowing down very much,” he said. “I’ll just be spending more time doing other things.”
Schuck attended and competed at Minnesota State in the late 1960s and got his first coaching job when he took over the B-squad boys basketball team at the Wilson lab school on campus. He was on the bench alongside head coach Gene Biewen when the Wilson campus varsity team made a run to the state finals in 1976.
Three years later, after working as a volunteer assistant track coach at MSU for many seasons, Schuck got his big break.
“MSU athletic director Bob Otto called me into his office and told me (longtime cross country coach) Bud Myers was retiring and did I want the job. It didn’t take me long to say to yes.
“I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of my profession. I tell all the young kids today to volunteer, to get their foot in the door, because that’s what paid off for me.”
Schuck sees himself as the last remaining coaching link to a bygone era at Minnesota State. Otto has an arena named after him, Myers had a field house named after him and longtime wrestling coach Rummy Macias has a practice facility named after him. He points that out to show he worked with some people who had major impacts at the university.
He’s proud of his accomplishments — nine North Central Conference cross country titles, nine league coach of the year awards, one national team cross country championship (1988), one national runner-up track finish (1989), and three national coach of the year honors — but says its the people he’s met and the relaatonships he’s fostered that mean the most.
“I coached alongside some great people, and I was blessed with a lot of great student athletes,” he said. “I would never have won a darn thing without them.”
Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at jrueda@ mankatofreepress.com.