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Two local legendary track and field coaches are set to retire

Both Healy and Mattis have coached at Northeast High School for over 50 years
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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GOOSE LAKE, Iowa (KWQC) - For the last five decades, Patrick Healy and Mike Mattis have led the girls’ and boys’ track and field programs, respectively, at the Northeast Community School District. The impact they’ve made on their school and athletes goes far beyond the finish line.

“It’s a team you will always remember. It always holds a special place in your heart,” Healy said.

“You get the four years, and the guys start out, and they are not really competitive,” Mattis said. “By their senior year, they are competitive, they like it. It’s fun seeing them develop.”

Over the last 50 years, Healy, who also has over 400 wins as the school’s girls basketball coach, coached multiple generations.

“My mom was coached by him. Definitely something we get to joke around with,” said senior Ellie Rickertsen.

Healy said sports teach life skills.

“Athletics is kind of a picture of the real world. You are trying to achieve, you’re trying to improve, you’re trying to contribute to a team, and that’s just going to help them later on,” Healy said.

Current team members say both Healey’s and Mattis’ legacies will not be forgotten.

“Coach Mattis has meant a lot to me. He has been the rock of our track team, he has been the one that encourages everybody to do better, to be better,” said senior Caleb Gruhn. “He is just a very good inspiration, and he is a great mentor.”

“Coach Healy has meant so much to this program, so much to each and every one of us,” Rickertsen said. “He cares about us more than just an athlete. He cares about us as a person, and he always wants us to succeed. He’s definitely someone I will never forget and always be grateful I was coached by.”

As Healy and Mattis prepare to hand the baton over to the coaches that follow, they both want the attention to remain on their athletes.

“You aren’t in it for the honors, you are here for the kids,” Healy said. “Coach’s honors come with how good your athletes are.”

“The guys we have on this team, all of them, make it worth it,” Mattis said.

“I’m a small town boy. I was born in a small town and went to a small college, and now I’m coaching in a small town. I’ve had the best life I could dream of,” Healy said.

Coach Healy said he plans to fish in his free time. Mattis said he wants to travel and visit his kids and grandkids across the country.

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