Loyalty to Northeast Lincoln runs deep in the Motz household.
Marcia Motz taught physical education for 38 years – the first five at Culler Junior High and the last 33 at Mickle Junior High, later to become Mickle Middle School.
Older son Jeff, now 40, was a member of the last ninth-grade class at Mickle before it went to the middle school (grades 6-8) format. He and younger brother Jimmy, now 35, both graduated from Lincoln Northeast and played basketball for the vaunted Rockets program.
Marcia combined her P.E. teaching duties with coaching chores at Lincoln Northeast (two years as ninth-grade coach in Sandi Genrich’s volleyball program) and at Mickle (assistant girls basketball coach and ninth-grade volleyball coach). She and her husband of 45 years, Jerry, also coached seventh- and eighth-grade basketball teams at Mickle.
“She was always inspiring the kiddos to be healthy,” said Karen Peppmuller, who nominated Motz for the 2018 Mentor Award presented by the Girls & Women in Sports & Fitness committee.
Motz personifies the slogan frequently attached to Lincoln Northeast loyalists since the high school opened in 1941: “Once a Rocket, always a Rocket.” She will receive the Mentor Award at the GWSF banquet Wednesday night at The Champions Club.
Born in 1947 and raised in the blue-collar community of northeast Lincoln, she attended the Northeast Child Center (grades K-3), Bethany Elementary School, Mickle Junior High School, and graduated from Lincoln Northeast (1966) and UNL (1971, with a B.A. plus 36 hours in physical education).
She has spent all but one of her 70 years in northeast Lincoln. The exception was her first teaching job, at Fort Dodge (Iowa) High School. The former Marcia Wall returned to her roots in the summer of 1972 to marry Jerry Motz, and the rest is history.
She taught part time for 15 years and full time for 18 years, going full time in 1993 when Mickle became a middle school.
Mickle has always had special significance in the Motz household. “Jerry was a member of the first ninth-grade class there, and Jeff was in their last ninth-grade class,” she said.
Marcia Motz’s father, Harvey Wall, was a 1925 graduate of Eagle High School and was on the basketball team. He earned a music degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1932. He taught band and vocal music for a dozen years and later worked 26 years for Goodyear Tire & Rubber, changing careers due to financial considerations.
Harvey Wall and his wife, Gladys, were married in 1934 and had two other children: a son, Jan Wall, who resides in Loveland Colorado; and Vicki (Mrs. Dick) Stephenson, who lives near Waverly.
Jimmy Motz, who went on to play Division I basketball for Creighton University, has followed his mom’s career path, teaching social studies and serving as head boys basketball coach at Columbus (Nebraska) High School. He and his wife, Mackenzie, a kindergarten teacher, have one child, Jayce, 2 ½, and are expecting their second.
Jeff Motz is sports director at KFOR Radio; his wife, Jami, owns Jami Lea Photography. They have two children: a daughter, Tenaj, 19, a sophomore at UNL; and a 12-year-old son, Jered, in sixth grade at Mickle.
Marcia said her love of working with kids inspired her during her 38-year teaching career. “The relationships I developed over the years were really special,” she said. “It was neat to teach a lot of kids who were children of my classmates.”
The award she will receive Wednesday will be the first of two to be presented to her family in a five-day span. Older brother Jan Wall, a pitcher who reached the Triple A level during a professional baseball career with the New York Mets organization, will be inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame during ceremonies Sunday, Feb. 11 in Beatrice.