At 49 years old, Rob Matuschek is ready to use his new driver’s license.
But this isn’t just any spin around the block for the long time teacher and administrator in the Cherry Creek School District, this is a serious drive.
Matuschek has his first opportunity to be a high school athletic director and it comes at Grandview, a burgeoning athletic powerhouse that appears to have as much momentum as any in the state’s Class 5A classification coming into the start of the 2016-17 season, which begins for all teams with practices Monday.
“My analogy is I’ve been handed the keys to a Porsche that’s already going 80 miles per hour,” Matuschek told the Sentinel on July 25, his first official day on the job. “It might need a tuneup or some different roads, but my job is to keep it going.
“It’s very exciting to get to step into such a prestigious program. It’s also a little intimidating.”
Under previous athletic director Jamee Ulitzy — who has moved up to an assistant principal role at the school — Grandview’s athletic program flourished and has joined the handful of large schools in Colorado that has the expectation of winning one or more state titles every year.
Matuschek — who joins Rodney Padilla at Hinkley and Ryan Knorr at Overland as new athletic directors at Aurora high schools — spent time at Overland where he coached cross country for several seasons and most recently he was a dean of students at Cherry Creek High School, which gave him a chance to watch Grandview’s athletic teams grow by leaps and bounds from the outside.
“The reputation that Grandview has now is incredible, I’m filling huge shoes,” said Matuschek, who has longtime athletic secretary Catrina Smith in place to help ease the transition.
Matuschek also feels lucky to work with the coaching staff at Grandview, a group that as a whole is about as stable as can be found in Colorado in the large school ranks as far as longevity and includes a number of faces familiar to Matuschek.
A large number of Grandview’s coaches migrated over from Overland in 1997 when the new school opened its doors and remain in place today. Matuschek knows head football coach John Schultz well, as he was hired by Schultz as a math teacher at Overland, while boys soccer coach Brian Wood and girls basketball coach Josh Ulitzky are other ties to Overland.
Matuschek is also fortunate to come in come in after Jamee Ulitzky made a couple of hires in marquee positions last year, as she tabbed successful Ponderosa coach Rob Graham to take over for retiring Patty Childress with the elite volleyball program and handed the keys to Dean Adams’ successful baseball program over to local fixture Scott Henry.
With that important housekeeping done, Matuschek got the athletic director’s job in great shape. In the first week after he got the job, he got a first hand look at his new school’s success, as he watched the girls soccer and girls golf teams win the last two 5A state championships of the 2015-16 athletic year.
“Two days after I took the job, I went and watched baseball in the quarterfinals, women’s soccer in the semifinals then they won in the finals and golf right there,” Matuschek said. “It was like bam, bam, bam. This has really developed into a powerhouse.”
Female sports have been particularly successful historically at Grandview, as well as recently. The volleyball program has won five Class 5A state championships — from 10 finals appearances — the girls soccer team has won the past two 5A state titles (and three overall) and the softball and girls golf teams also own crowns.
Star Michaela Onyenwere has Grandview in the conversation for its first 5A girls state basketball championship this winter and budding running star Brie Oakley is a multiple-time state champion already who is helping to elevate the cross country and track programs.
The lone boys state championship in school history remains the 5A state title won by Schultz with the football team in 2007. Grandview’s boys soccer team made the 5A state championship game in 2004 and 2007, but fell to Smoky Hill both times, while the boys basketball and baseball teams have made multiple final four appearances, but still seek their first state crowns.
“It’s not necessary for me to sit down and pick up the boys programs,” Matuschek said. “For any of these major sports, 5A football, basketball, baseball, etc., it is an incredible challenge to get to that elite level. At that point, it’s just a matter of things falling into place and sometimes you get a little luck or the ball bounces your way.
“To be in the final four is a successful program and then to grab that championship is really elite.”
The other facet of the constantly evolving athletic director job is that of teacher evaluation, which Matuschek feels very comfortable with given his extensive teaching background and experience as a dean.
“One thing that attracted me to the role of AD is that it has changed from being solely involved in sports to a dual role where it is involved in the school administrative team with evaluating teachers,” Matuschek said.
“I’m probably pretty unique in that I bring that strong academic background and that should really allow me to concentrate on athletes and not feel like I’m being drug down by the other role.”
Matuschek is part of a new-look administration at Grandview that has Dr. Lisa Sprague — who served as the school’s softball coach for a few years — in place as principal.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel