The BYU lacrosse team won its first national championship in 1997. This began a legacy not only for the program, but also for then-player Matt Schneck.
However, when Schneck first came to BYU, it was to play football, not lacrosse. He played defensive back and wide receiver for four years under former coach LaVell Edwards. When he was on the gridiron, he never thought he’d go on to be the head lacrosse coach.
“I was never a superstar football player, but I had a great experience being part of the team,” Schneck said. “It opened up a lot of opportunities and I made a lot of great relationships.”
Schneck said his family was sports-minded and he grew up playing multiple sports. He contrasted that with athletes today who focus on one sport they stick with throughout high school and college.
“I was never just a lacrosse player — I always played multiple sports throughout my years of elementary school and high school,” Schneck said. “It was track. It was basketball. It was football. It was lacrosse. I just played every sport I could.”
In 1997, what is now known as the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association hosted its first national lacrosse tournament. Prior to that point, there wasn’t a national championship the team could play for. Schneck said the opportunity to be involved for this “inaugural season” provided him with the incentive to join the team his senior year.
BYU won the national championship that year, the first of four times BYU would hold the title.
“Matt was a great teammate,” said Johnny Jackson, who also played on the 1997 championship team. “He was very well liked by everyone and a great player — especially for not having played for a few years.”
It wasn’t long before Schneck transitioned to coaching. His first coaching job brought him back to football at Timpview High School.
“I always wanted to coach,” Schneck said. “At the time, I didn’t think I would be coaching lacrosse for BYU, but I was always drawn (there). I loved the students and so I began looking for opportunities to coach there.”
Schneck soon realized, however, that coaching college football would require a major career change from his occupation as a business owner. In 2002, there was an opportunity to volunteer with the BYU lacrosse team and he transitioned back to lacrosse once again. He was an assistant coach when the team won the national championship again in 2007.
“At the time it was purely volunteer,” Schneck said. “I was probably an anomaly as an assistant coach being able to volunteer for all those years thanks to my patient and understanding wife.”
In 2009, Schneck became the program’s head coach. Two years later the team became national champions for the fourth time, making Schneck the first person to win the national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“That was pretty cool,” Schneck said. “The next year the Colorado State coach did the same thing, but it’s still neat to say I was the first.”
Schneck has now been with the lacrosse program for 14 years. During that time, he’s seen the program grow. When it began, there were no buses, no sanctioned fields and no funding. With greater support, the program has evolved into something much bigger.
Greg Saunders, who coached the team from 1986 to 1990, said he’s loved seeing the progress of the lacrosse program.
“Matt Schneck has provided stability to the program,” Saunders said. “Back then we were always wondering if we were going to have a program year after year. He’s really got it on solid footing and taken it to the next level.”
One of the first things Schneck did when he became head coach was switch to early morning practices. Schneck said this was important to have consistency for the team.
“It was hard for me to be home for my family (before),” Schneck said. “Now we always have access to everything and we can get done by 10 a.m. It means my coaching staff can have jobs and spend time with their families.”
Senior Matt Brandenburg has been playing under Coach Schneck since 2009. Brandenburg said he’s been impressed with the way Schneck has balanced his work with time spent with his family.
“He’s so good at supporting his players and has us high on his priority list,” Brandenburg said. “But it’s also really impressive how he balances his family life and his professional life. I really admire him for that.”
Schneck is married and has four children. Sports remain a big part of his family as his wife and kids have been involved with the team. He has also been an e-commerce entrepreneur for 20 years and said he has a “passion for business.” Schneck stays busy balancing lacrosse, family, work and his church calling.
“I only get sick when I take a break,” Schneck said.
Schneck’s current team is 6-1-1 and will face the University of New Hampshire at home on Saturday, March 19.