Matthew Steinfeldt enjoys challenge of leading two teams
AZTEC — Matthew Steinfeldt has no reservations about his decision to coach both the football and boys basketball teams at Aztec High School. In fact, he himself persuaded school officials to let him take on that challenge.
Steinfeldt, who recently completed his sixth season in charge of the football program, is wrapping up his second season coaching the boys basketball program. It's no easy task, but it doesn't overwhelm him.
"I actually find it to be an awesome responsibility," Steinfeldt said. "There's still learning curves I think I go through on a regular basis, but I feel like I bring the same passion and energy I do to football."
Steinfeldt, who had experience as an assistant basketball coach in the early 2000s in his hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin., is the fourth Tigers basketball coach since 2012.
Also a history teacher at Aztec High, Steinfeldt had some of his football players in his class two years ago when they endured a one-win basketball season.
"They seemed pretty disenfranchised with the progress they were making. We had a lot of turnover, as far as head (basketball) coaches here, and there wasn't any consistency in the program," Steinfeldt said.
So he threw his name into the coaching search, convinced he could help turn the program around.
It helped Steinfeldt that he'd be reunited with some of his football players, including seniors Tanner Brooks and Cody Smith. That familiarity made the transition smoother for athletes and coach alike.
"It definitely works out for the football players coming in. It's just good having him around. I think it was a good switch-up," Smith said.
Aztec (9-9) last won 10 games during the 2014-2015 campaign. After earning six wins all of last year, Steinfeldt hopes to rack up a few more victories this year and keep building on it.
"I believe we still have a great path in front of us," Steinfeldt said.
Players also see the growth.
"I feel like we're building a foundation now," Smith said.
The overlapping time window between the state football playoffs (mid-November to early December) and opening week for basketball (just after Thanksgiving) was of little concern to Steinfeldt.
Steinfeldt said the only tricky aspect he sees in coaching both teams is the "wacky practice schedules" and midweek travel that basketball entails.
"Where people find challenges, I find opportunities," Steinfeldt said.
To accommodate both sports, Steinfeldt has a simple formula: basketball practice in the morning, followed by football practice in the afternoon.
He has a burning desire to make it work.
Just as he saw in the football team, Steinfeldt sees potential in the boys basketball team. The one major difference: Aztec football is historically strong, whereas boys basketball isn't.
Steinfeldt doesn't mind pulling double duty to make boys basketball strong, too.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.