Northside champions reach Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of MSHSL Faith Johnson Patterson

Johnson Patterson’s journey

Before earning eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), Faith Johnson Patterson was one of the state’s top high school girls’ basketball players during the late 1970s.

Her journey started at a young age. “I got interested in basketball looking in the backyard,” she said. “I would see [former Marshall-University boys’ basketball players] Ronnie Henderson, Ronnie Hadley and Rodney Hargest playing and looking like they were having fun.”

She was further influenced unexpectedly by a family member. “One day I was watching and my aunt Joan Johnson went out there and played,” she recalled. “She was shooting, dribbling, passing. She was doing it all and doing it very well.”

That moment influenced Johnson Patterson, then a fourth-grader, to try the sport. “My aunt encouraged me to give it a try,” she said in reflection. “So, I did.”

Johnson Patterson recalled being a long way then from the player that she would become. “I never forgot the first time I tried it,” she said laughing. “I was so uncoordinated that I couldn’t put the ball from the right hand to the left-hand side.”

Despite not possessing skills comparable to her aunt’s, Johnson Patterson kept at it. “It looked like everyone was having so much fun,” she said. “So, I kept playing and literally taught myself how to play basketball.”

She turned out to be a pretty good teacher, playing in the first two girls’ state basketball tournament during her eighth-grade and ninth-grade seasons. Though she went on to have an outstanding prep career, she was not an all-state selection as a senior.

Many remember Johnson Patterson as one the state’s greatest coaches. Some remember her as an outstanding high school player as well. Now she will be remembered as both.

“It’s an honor to be inducted,” she said.

For MSHSL Hall of Fame induction ceremony ticket information, contact the Minnesota State High School League at 763-560-2262, ext. 493.

About Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at

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