Hometown Hero: Matt Herschberg uses experiences to help others | CraigDailyPress.com

Hometown Hero: Matt Herschberg uses experiences to help others

Erin Fenner

Matt Herschberg, who now attends Colorado State University, got his start in Young Life and mixed martial arts in Craig.

Matt Herschberg grew up in Craig, and while now in school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, he still considers himself shaped by the community.

As a teenager, he experienced bullying and tragedy, both pushing him to do something proactive.

Because of the bullying, he decided to learn a constructive way to handle his anger by learning mixed martial arts.

And because of the death of a friend in high school, Herschberg got involved with Young Life, a Christian youth group.

"You never know 100 percent what's going to happen when they leave Craig," said Director of Young Life David Pressgrove. Herschberg "was involved with Young Life because he tagged along with some guys who were really involved."

But Herschberg made a lasting impression on Pressgrove. He has invited Herschberg to Young Life as a speaker to help encourage members to keep up hope.

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"It just seems pretty extraordinary for a college student to have so many irons in the fire and helping people through so many avenues," Pressgrove said. "In college, you start to look outside yourself, but it seems he has gone above and beyond to do that."

Going above and beyond includes another avenue Herschberg has taken on, which is serving as a volunteer minister for the Larimer County Jail.

"A lot of people forget they they're people, too," he said, "Inmates are actually a little more welcoming to (faith.) They have a lot less to lose."

It was rewarding to give back to a segment of the community that often is overlooked, he said. He found himself inspired by the journeys of people he worked with in the jail.

"There was a guy, he came into the jail for such and such charge, and he went to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and got clean off of heroin, meth, pot, cocaine, PCP, cigarettes, chew, any kind of tobacco as well as alcohol," Herschberg said. "Read the Bible cover to cover and started a Bible study in his cell block and brought two people to God in all."

Besides his work as a minister, Herschberg also is the manager of the Martial Arts and Dance Department at CSU.

Herschberg manages the department but also takes his skills in MMA to another often overlooked community: veterans.

He teaches free classes to anyone who is a veteran or enlisted.

"I want to give back to them for what they give back to us," he said. "I just have a really deep respect for those who are willing to lay it down and (be on) that track."

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.