NMU’s Troy Mattson retiring after 40 years with Wildcat programs

Westwood Graduate has been head coach of Women’s Basketball and Women’s Tennis
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Northern Michigan University’s head coach Troy Mattson is set to retire in June after 17 years as leader of the Wildcat women’s basketball program and nearly 40 years with NMU Athletics. In addition to his coaching duties with the women’s basketball program, Mattson was the associate head coach of the NMU men’s basketball program from 1994-2005 and was a part of that program’s coaching staff since 1988. Mattson also guided the women’s tennis team from 1994 to 2003. He was a point guard for the Wildcats from 1982-85.

”I would like to thank Northern Michigan University, Marquette, and the surrounding area,” Mattson said. “For over 55 years, it has been my home and truthfully the only place I have ever wanted to be. Second only to my family, NMU has been the most important aspect of my life.”

Mattson said his time as a Wildcat has left him feeling fortunate to all who believed in him at the university.”It is not often that someone has the opportunity to be a student-athlete at their local university and then get to retire from that same institution after 34 years of service. I have been truly fortunate for the many people who believed in my abilities as a player and as a coach, and I am greatly appreciative of them all.”

Mattson has been at the helm of the NMU women’s basketball team the past 17 seasons after taking over the program in 2005. He ranks second in coaching wins for the program with 240, which includes three seasons with 22-plus victories. His squads have made three NCAA appearances, 2009-10, 2013-14, 2018-19) and qualified for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament for the last 11 straight seasons.

”Troy made everyone around him better and I am grateful for our time working together,” said NMU Director of Athletics Forrest Karr. “He is organized, detail-oriented, well-respected in the basketball community and cares deeply about student-athletes. These qualities led to incredibly consistent success coaching three different NMU teams. Troy is leaving the women’s basketball program in a great place, with a strong culture and a talented group of returning student-athletes.”

Among his NMU women’s basketball coaching highlights was the 2018-19 season where the Wildcats defeated No. 4 Ashland University in the first round of the NCAA Division II Regional, holding the Eagles to their lowest score of the season. That team also defeated nationally ranked Grand Valley State University twice during the year. The first win came in Marquette with NMU giving No. 9 GVSU its only GLIAC loss of the regular season. In the GLIAC Tournament, Mattson’s squad overcame an 11-0 deficit to defeat the then-ranked No. 7 Lakers in Allendale to advance to the GLIAC Championship.Another special season was 2013-14 when Mattson guided the team to a GLIAC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth. Lauren Gruber was named the GLIAC Tournament MVP for averaging a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) over the three playoff games. She was also tabbed to the All-GLIAC second and defensive teams. Alyssa Colla was named to the Daktronics, Inc., All-Midwest Region second team, All-GLIAC first team, and All-GLIAC defensive team. Northern Michigan finished the year 22-8 (16-6 GLIAC).

The Wildcats also had a memorable season in 2009-10. NMU finished 22-10 (16-6 GLIAC), placing second in the North Division. The Wildcats qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament and advanced to the semifinals of the Midwest Regional by defeating No. 5 Indianapolis, 52-51. They also advanced to the GLIAC Tournament championship game, where they fell to Michigan Tech.

Women’s Basketball Career Coaching Achievements:

  • Second winningest coach in program history with a 240-231 record over 17 seasons.
  • 11 straight appearances in the GLIAC Tournament.
  • Three seasons with 22-plus wins.
  • GLIAC Tournament champions in 2013-14.
  • Three NCAA Appearances in 2009-10, 2013-14, and 2018-19.
  • Multiple regional semifinal appearances in 2009-10 and 2018-19.
  • Coached nine 1,000 point scorers (Alyssa Colla, Allison Carroll, Kelsey Deacon, Jessica Schultz, Lauren Gruber, Darby Youngstrom, Steffani Stoeger, Bre Gaspervich, Makaylee Kuhn).
  • Coached Alyssa Colla, who earned the GLIAC Commissioner’s Award and All-Region recognition in 2015. Colla is the third-highest scorer in program history with 1,567 points.

As coach of the women’s tennis team, Mattson earned Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 2002 and GLIAC Coach of the Year accolades in 2000 and 2002. His teams made three straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances from 2001 to 2003. He began his collegiate coaching career as the assistant men’s and women’s basketball coach at Lake Superior State University from 1986-88. He began his coaching career at Munising High School, where he was the boy’s basketball coach during the 1985-86 season. As a player, Mattson was a four-time letter-winner (1982-85) as a point guard. He was the 10th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, recording 1,018 in his career. He is third in career assists with 486 and is tied for third in most assists in a single season with 187. During his junior and senior years, Mattson helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA II playoffs.A Milwaukee, Wis., native who grew up in Ishpeming, Mattson is a 1981 Westwood High School graduate. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1986 and his master’s degree in 1992, both from NMU.

Quoting Coach Mattson: On the special opportunity to coach three different programs: “I had the unique experience of coaching three different programs while at NMU. All three were different in nature, but they shared one common theme. At the time, they all had to be built from the bottom up. All three programs were struggling and through the incredible hours of recruiting and hard work by coaches, players, and support staff, we were able to raise all three programs to conference and national prominence. All of this took years and years of persistence and vision.”

On coaching his student-athletes: “Over the past 34 years, I have had the opportunity to coach some amazing student-athletes. To see them grow as people and go out into the world and be incredible parents, successful people in their professional life, and to be great ambassadors to NMU is probably the most inspirational aspect of my job. I always say to myself, ‘If you can learn one thing from every person you meet, whether good or bad, it will pay great dividends in life.’ To all the student-athletes I have coached over the years, ‘I hope you learned something!“

On his time as a Wildcat player: “As I look back at my time as a player, I realize now that it gave me an opportunity, one that I did not realize at the time. It gave me a chance for an education and for who I could become. Even though we had great success while I played here, the most successful aspect of that time is the friendships and relationships that we formed as teammates and coaches that will last a lifetime.”

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