MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Many Gophers are mourning the loss of long-time equipment manager Dick Mattson, better known as "Mats" or "Matty," who served the Gophers athletic department for nearly 50 years. One of his former co-workers said his loyalty to the University of Minnesota can be summed up in a single photo.
“It's kind of a picture we all cherish, that explains his love and tenacity for his Gophers,” said current U of M athletic equipment manager John Blackshear.
The picture being referred to is the Gophers 1982 win over Ohio State, and in the middle is Mattson, joining the pile of players on the football field.
“The game isn't over with and the official is grabbing him by the arm, leading him off the field,” Blackshear said. “He was a character.”
Blackshear started working with the equipment staff in the ‘80s at which point Matty had already been with the Gophers for 20 years. Blackshear said Matty taught him that the job is about much more than packing up players’ equipment and moving it around the country for games.
“It’s hard work, the kids come first … but you can also be a teacher and mentor to those young athletes,” Blackshear said.
One of those athletes was Doug Kingsriter, who joined the Gophers football team in 1970 before going on to play for the Vikings. Kingsriter describes Mats as a hard worker, motivator and loyal member of all Gopher teams.
“I got the encouragement, I got the cheerleading. I got the tough talk, ya know. Get tough, be like Bobby Bell will ya?” he said.
By the time he retired in 2008, Matty spent 48 years with the University of Minnesota. Last fall he was recognized with the U's "M" Club - a distinguished service award. It was one of the few times he was nearly speechless.
“’I don't know what to say,’” Matty said in October of 2016, “’but God bless all of you.’”
Matty passed away earlier this week after a battle with cancer. He leaves behind a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. He was 73 years old.