Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Matt Masker Brings Central Nebraska Development Football Camp to Kearney

July 24, 2021

Matt Masker doesn’t yet know what he might like to do once he graduates from college. He’s only a junior on Nebraska’s roster—although this upcoming school year will be his fourth in Lincoln—so he has time to figure it out.

But the nutrition and health sciences major would be lying if he told you coaching wasn’t on the table.

“My high school football coaches and growing up playing high school ball, those men had the biggest impact on me out of anybody as far as like inspiring me to play college football and just to chase my dreams,” Masker told Hail Varsity. “They made high school football so much fun and in a way where we were disciplined, hardworking and it was just, I don’t know, I had such a good high school football experience that I just want to give other kids that because I know how impactful it is.

“I’ve thought about doing so many different things after college. I still have a lot to figure out but I’m definitely considering coaching in high school.”

When name, image and likeness legislation went into effect for student-athletes, Masker thought there might be a way to turn that coaching potential into a way to give back. Having graduated from Kearney (Neb.) Catholic High School, Masker has wanted to do something for his hometown. Alongside a number of Husker teammates, he will do just that.

The inaugural Central Nebraska Development Football Camp—scheduled for Wednesday, July 28—will give youth, both boys and girls from third through 12th grade, an opportunity to work on their skills. Each camper will note what position they are focused on, allowing Masker and his teammates the opportunity to give those in attendance the best experience possible. High schoolers will even focus on advanced skills.

Masker will tell you he had no experience running a camp before this summer, but his willingness to learn has served him well.

“I feel that I’m running a business and it’s like, I’m learning how to do that,” Masker said. “There’s so many things to coordinate logistically and so many things that I’ve had a plan for. I mean, this is a great experience for the real world if I ever want to run my own business one day. It’s been great. I love it.”

The Huskers helping Masker at his camp are Heinrich Haarberg and Eli Richter, who both also hail from Kearney, as well as Zach Weinmaster, Ethan Piper, Todd Honas and Jacob Herbek. Weinmaster is the only Husker on the list that is not from Nebraska, but he may as well be. “I consider Zach a home-state kid the way he acts and just how awesome he is,” Masker said, adding that each player helping out is a “man of character and a great mentor.” That’s what mattered to Masker most.

As he saw others start hosting camps—Ben Stille and JoJo Domann recently held theirs in Lincoln–Masker thought Kearney might like the same opportunity.

“I’m like, ‘Well, shoot. I know that Kearney would be absolutely thrilled if a couple of us guys put together a camp in town,'” Masker said. “And it’s our week off this week and we really don’t have anything going on. I’m like, ‘This would probably be the absolute perfect time to throw something like this together.'”

Masker started writing things down, mapping out logistics and making phone calls. As he started to ask around, his purpose came into focus: give back to the youth in central Nebraska and to Kearney Catholic High School. Not only will the youth in attendance get the coaching and mentorship from the Husker players running the event, but Masker does plan to hold true to that second piece of his purpose. He will make a donation to the Kearney Catholic High School football program when it’s all said and done.

As camp day gets closer, Masker is getting more and more eager. For him, he fell in love with football at a young age. Putting the camp together has brought back a number of memories for why he loves the sport so much. That has also motivated him to make it the best camp it can be to hopefully pass that love on.

“I’m looking forward to just watching these kids have so much fun,” Masker said. “I feel like me and the guys are going to have so much fun just being kids again and giving these kids the best time they possibly can have.”

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a group of Huskers coming to town. There’s something particularly special about that too.

“I know that if I was a little kid and there’s a bunch of Husker players coming into town, there is nothing in the world that would keep me from making that,” Masker said.

For youth that may be interested, sign ups run until camp day on Wednesday, July 28. T-shirts are no longer guaranteed, but Masker and the camp did order a few extras that will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Ultimately though, it will be an opportunity for campers of all ages to spend some time learning from those who’ve been in their shoes before.

And Masker’s goal for the day?

“I just want everybody to come and have a good time and be open and to have fun and learn a lot,” he said.

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