Tamara Moore, a former WNBA, University of Wisconsin, and Minneapolis North basketball player was one of the most dominant prep players in Minnesota history. She’s now made history by becoming the first woman ever to lead a men’s college basketball program after accepting an offer to coach at Mesabi Range College in Virginia, Minnesota.
“I was offered the opportunity to make history,” said Moore, who spent the last two years as the head coach at Minneapolis Edison. “I couldn’t pass it up.”
The fact that Moore, who spent six years in the WNBA, is a member of the University Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame and a Miss Basketball recipient who led North to the Class AAA girls’ basketball state title in 1998 is interesting enough. What’s more interesting, however, is how the opportunity came to present itself.
“One of my [Edison basketball] players, guard Serena Poisson, was being recruited to play volleyball at Mesabi,” Moore said. “The coach went to our website to find more information.”
Upon examining the website, Volleyball Coach Sara Matuszak came across a familiar name from the past. “She was looking for more info on the school and Serena and came across my name,” Moore said with excitement. “Sara was my guidance counselor when I was a student at North.”
Matuszak’s discovery spread quickly and before she knew it, Moore was being offered the job. “I was surprised when they offered me the men’s position, but not intimidated by it,” she said. “I’ve run a men’s semi-pro team the past four years, so I have experience coaching men.”
Moore is used to achieving firsts. She was the first African American to win Miss Basketball when it became a single-player award; the first woman to play in the Inner City All-Star Classic before a boy’s game developed; and now the first woman to head a men’s college program.
With a lot of people to thank for her past and recent accomplishments, Moore thanked one trailblazing Hall of Fame coach in particular for her leadership and guidance. “Thanks for being someone who believed in me and bringing me to Minneapolis North,” she recently wrote in response to an article in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder last year about her first high school coach.
“Thank you, Coach Tonyus Chavers.”
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.