Sherri Mattson took advantage of opportunities for a lifelong connection to athletics and leadership. For her many accomplishments, she was the 2013 inductee into the Braham Hall of Fame at the May 9 Awards Night at the high school.
“What an incredible honor, being inducted into my hometown Hall of Fame,” began Mattson.
Mattson graduated from Braham High in 1971, an outstanding athlete in the first years of girls sports at the school, setting the basketball scoring records bar when the Bombers won the first Rum River title. She went on to play basketball, volleyball, softball and field hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, getting her physical education teaching and coaching degree in 1975.
“When I was in high school, there were few opportunities for girls to play competitive sports. GAA (Girls Athletic Association) was our only option, which meant one night per week in an open-gym intramural format. But we looked forward to that every week,” recalled Mattson. “That changed my junior year when the school hired a young physical education teacher named Ann Kollar. She and Athletic Director Leonard Froyen were instrumental in starting interscholastic sports — volleyball, basketball and track — for girls in the Rum River Conference. This was two years before Title IX.
“Those two years playing sports in Braham changed my life. It prepared me for other opportunities that came along. A big ‘thank you’ goes out to all the community support we received here … and none of this would have been possible without the support of my parents.”
From 1975-77, Mattson hit the road to play professional basketball with the All-American Redheads, the first women’s team to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., last year.
“What a once-in-a-lifetime experience, being surrounded by all the basketball legends,” Mattson said. “A year before that, the Redheads were honored at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. I got to meet and get a photo with Pat Summit, winningest coach in basketball history.”
She went on to teach physical education and coach basketball, volleyball and softball at Inver Hills Community College, winning the state basketball title in 1980. Her teaching and coaching career moved to Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. At Bemidji State, she was named the NSIC women’s basketball coach of the year when she led the Beavers to the conference title and berth in the national tourney.
Mattson earned her adaptive physical education master’s degree from the U of M in 1989. Mattson teaches adaptive phy ed at Hastings and was head tennis coach for 15 years at the school, along with running the summer tennis program during that tenure and coaching ninth-grade girls hoops.
More honors Mattson has garnered over her career are: UMD Hall of Fame inductee, 1997; Federation of International Basketball Association honoree with the All-American Redheads, 2010; Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership merit award winner, 2010; and Bemidji Athletic Hall of Fame inductee with the 1986-87 women’s basketball squad, 2011.
Offering a word of advice to the crowd in attendance at her old high school, Mattson said, “Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. You never know where they will take you.”