Tamara Moore, one of the most decorated high school basketball players in Minnesota history who went on to an outstanding college and WNBA career, was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in September.
As a senior in 1998, the 5’-11” point guard teamed with Mauri Horton, Tiara Medlock, Felicia Bell, Jill Kalvik, Tisa Thomas, Abby Reed, Savanna Martens, Demetrice Walker, Marquise Williams, Jenny Dowzak, Erin Duffy, and Edna Zackary to lead Minneapolis North to its first of five Class 3A state championships
Now an educator in the Minneapolis Public Schools system and the general manager of a men’s semi-pro team, Moore (TM) reflects below on her prep career.
MSR: How did you get started playing basketball?
TM: My family had a hoop on the garage, and I would skip chores and go outside to play. It started off as a way to get out of cleaning, but then I started to get better and better, which made it a passion.
MSR: What role did your high school coaches play in your development?
TM: Freshmen year was Tonyus Chavers, who made me humble in my first season by making sure that I knew I had to work hard every day. She taught me a huge lesson during tryouts when I just knew that I played well, but she made me sweat and taught me to always be a team player.
Faith Johnson Patterson coached me from sophomore to senior years. She taught me how to believe in myself as a leader. She was someone who always believed in my ability and helped me flourish in the role of top-level athlete.
MSR: How did you end up choosing Wisconsin over Tennessee?
TM: Having the opportunity to have the most decorated college coaches in [Tennessee Coach] Pat Summitt recruit me was an honor. It gave me validation that I had become a top-level athlete. The most honest answer is that I struggled on my ACT/SAT, and I believed that I had a great chance of getting into Wisconsin, and I loved the coaching staff there, as well as my good friend [former Tartan standout] Jessie Stomski deciding to go there.
I signed with Wisconsin, but I found out a week later I passed my test. Tennessee was my dream school, but Wisconsin made my dreams come true with a great career, Hall of Fame induction, and WNIT Championship. I wouldn’t change it.
MSR: What did it mean to help North win that first state title?
TM: I think being able to be a part of the first-ever championship not only at North, but also being the first city team to win one, it’s something that shined a light on the talent of the city. North went on to win four more, but I can always say I was a part of the very first. We were finally out of the shadow of the North boys’ team, but it was great to know that we gained and earned the respect of the city and state.
MSR: What did it mean for you to be the first African American to be named Ms. Basketball outright?
TM: It was a very prestigious honor to be the first because it was a door that may have seemed closed and hard to open, but it solidified my place in history. I always looked up to [former Minneapolis Henry standout] Tracy Henderson growing up, and when she didn’t win [in 1993], I knew I would have to work hard. Now, looking forward at how many African American girls have won since, the sky is the limit.
MSR: Anything else you would like to mention as you reflect on your prep career?
TM: [I was] honored as the first female to play in the Inner City All-Star classic in 1998. It was a great opportunity that has now grown to even bigger heights. With my name being added to the MVP Trophy for the girls’ game, I’ve been blessed.
MSR: Any final thoughts?
TM: Thank you to Minneapolis North High School for giving me the platform to showcase my talent and helping me make my dreams come soon. Always a Badger. Always a Polar.
Note: From 1984-89 the Minnesota Miss Basketball award was given to the top Class A player and top Class AA player. Hill Murray’s Mya Whitmore, African American player, won the Class AA award in 1987. Since the award was given to one player after1990, Moore won it followed by African American players Mauri Horton (Minneapolis North) 1999, Shannon Bolden (Marshall) 2001, Jeanna Smith (Bloomington Kennedy) 2006, Angel Robinson (Marquette) 2007, Tayler Hill (Minneapolis South) 2009, Rachel Banham (Lakeville North) 2011, and Nia Hollie (Hopkins) 2016 have won it. A total of nine African Americans have won the award.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.