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Tamara Moore is becoming a Minnesota basketball legend for her work as player, coach and executive

Tamara Moore is becoming a Minnesota basketball legend for her work as player, coach and executive
Tamara Moore coaching her semi-professional team, TC Elite. (Courtesy: Tamara Moore)

VIRGINIA, Minn. (BVM) — According to Tamara Moore, there was some luck that played into her getting her new job title. 

A former high school teacher of Moore’s, Sara Matuszak, was recruiting one of Moore’s basketball players at Edison High School to play volleyball at Mesabi Range College. During the recruiting process, Matuszak realized who Moore was and reached to her about the new job opening at Mesabi. 

In early April, Moore announced she would be taking over as the head coach of both the men’s basketball team and the softball team at Mesabi. This makes her the first African American woman to be the head coach of a men’s collegiate basketball team, and even though she says it was a “needle in a haystack scenario,” a look at Moore’s career shows she is well deserving of the coaching jobs.

Growing up in Minneapolis, she did not get into basketball until she was 10 years old and did not start taking the game seriously until seventh grade. Once in high school, at Minneapolis North, she continued to strengthen her love for the game and even began to develop a love for coaching.

“My senior year was my opportunity to be a head coach,” Moore said, “and it was our freshmen girls basketball team I was the head coach of so I would coach the freshmen girls team. I would wait for the JV team to play, get dressed and then play in the varsity games.”

While at Minneapolis North, Moore was able to learn from her head coach, Faith Johnson Patterson, a Minnesota high school coaching legend in her own right. As a senior, in 1998, she was named Miss Basketball in Minnesota and helped the Lady Polars win a MSHSL AAA state championship. 

From Minneapolis she went on to play at the University of Wisconsin earning an induction into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017 for her career as a Badger. After Wisconsin, she went 15th in the 2002 WNBA draft to the Miami Sol and played six seasons in the WNBA before playing overseas and then retiring. That’s when coaching came back into her life.

“After my pro playing career kind of slowed down, I came back home at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010,” Moore said. “(I) took on a head coaching job on the girls side of things and then established my semi-pro team in 2016.”

Moore’s semi-pro team is called TC Elite and is based in the Twin Cities area where she has been both an executive and a coach.

“First year we were really successful,” Moore said. “We were one game out of the championship round and I was named executive of the year in 2016. We revamped the team, in 2017 we actually won the championship and I was named coach of the year.” 

She wasn’t done there. In July of last year she formed her own semi-pro league called the Official Basketball Association (OBA). The league includes 35 teams from across the country, including the TC Elite.

Always a student of the game, Moore has used all of the experiences to grow as a player and a coach, learning every step of the way from the people she worked with.

“I learned from a lot of great coaches,” Moore said. “Just in my WNBA career I played for three legends: Bill Lambeer in Detroit, Michael Cooper when I was in L.A. for the L.A. Sparks and I was also coached by Joe ‘Jelly Bean’ Bryant, the father of Kobe Bryant, when I was in L.A.”

There are many others, including her older brother, Jeff Robinson, and her coach from her time at Wisconsin, Jane Albright. 

With this knowledge and understanding of how to be a great coach, she has already been hard at work building her teams for next season. Not even a week in, she had already signed seven letters of intent. Obviously basketball is the sport everyone is focused on, but for Moore, softball is just as important.

“I know basketball is getting a lot of media coverage and I want them to know that the softball job is not a second entity to the basketball job,” Moore said. “It is all equal. I played four years of softball in high school, and was all-metro, all-conference so I’m really good at softball. It’s just not what I’m known for.”

She has big plans for both programs and wants to run them just like a Division I program to get her athletes ready for the next level. This shouldn’t be a problem either considering even in high school Moore had a knack for player development.

“I had a teammate I found at one of our volleyball practices,” Moore said. “She was about 6-foot-2, didn’t look athletic at all but I was like, ‘You’re 6-foot-2 have you ever played before?’ She told me no and I said, ‘Well why don’t you try.’ She came, tried out for the team. She wasn’t very good at first. I worked with her day in, day out, before practice, after practice and at the end of her high school career she left with two state championships and a scholarship to play college basketball.”

That was back when she was in high school. Since then she has continued to master her craft meaning the Norsemen are getting a great coach.

However, behind all of this is also a desire to continue pushing the door open for women to be involved in men’s sports. Moore credits the Becky Hammons, Swin Cashs and Teresa Weatherspoons of the world who opened the door for women everywhere to get involved in men’s sports, and she wants to do the same.

“I’m looking to push the game forward even more for the nieces that I have.”

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