Johnson Patterson has coached at Minneapolis North (1995-2009), DeLaSalle (2009-2015) and Eden Prairie (2015-2017).
Everyone remembers the five Class 3A championships at North (1998, 1999, 2003-2005) and three Class 3A titles at DeLaSalle (2011-2013), making Johnson Patterson the first coach ever to lead two different high school teams to three-peats. But to me her greatest accomplishment was a dream season that concluded with a runner-up finish in the state tournament in 2009.
That year — after failing to qualify for the tournament — she led the Polars back to the big dance led by senior Brianna Edwards and eighth graders Seyanna Johnson, Allina Starr, Chelsey McGee and Talayia Rich. They made it all the way to the Class 3A championship game before losing to St. Michael Albertville.
The future looked bright for North at the time, but after that season Johnson Patterson left for DeLaSalle, where Johnson and Starr led them to their three-peat. Green and Rich went on to play four years at Robbinsdale Cooper.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Johnson Patterson was the first African American woman coach to be inducted into the Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2012. She’s the only woman named among the Minnesota State High School League‘s Top 5 Best coaches in 100 years of high school tournaments, and she coached the first two African American players — Tamara Moore, 1998, and Mauri Horton, 1999 — to be named Miss Basketball.
Johnson Patterson set the standard for what accomplished high school coaches should aspire to be. She’s one of the best to ever do it.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to email@example.com
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.