What a great, informative and interesting article on Artie Mathisen by Bangor Daily News sportswriter Ryan McLaughlin on this past Saturday’s sports pages.
It brought back some great basketball memories for me.
When I went back into high school basketball coaching for the 1987-88 basketball season at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor (after a 10 year hiatus from coaching) I remember that Artie Mathisen was a 5’9″ point guard who had played on the JV team as a sophomore.
I had to decide whether to put him on our JV team as a junior, or keep him on the varsity and see what would happened. The starting point guard for the 1986-87 team had graduated so we had to find a new one.
I luckily made the right decision. After a tough battle he eventually won the starting point guard position his junior year. He then was the point guard on a John Bapst team that lost in the Eastern Maine Class C final to Fort Fairfield in overtime in a great championship game.
The next year, 1988-89, with Artie back at the point position, we won the 1989 State Class C Championship with a 15 point win over Western Maine Champion Livermore Falls at the Bangor Auditorium.
What I saw in him was how coachable he was. He really paid attention to what was being said during the tryout sessions and really made an effort to do what was being said. He had a built in leadership quality that stood out, despite not having played varsity ball.
Also, he was very unselfish and wanted to make the assist, not the basket. That really stood out as it’s usually harder to create the assist for the basket than to make the basket.
He always thought pass first, shot second when he received or had the ball. He really made his teammates better with his play making, leadership and quarterbacking.
Artie worked hard on his foul shooting as he knew he’d have the ball in his hands more than any of our players on the floor. He was especially excellent from the line in crunch time when we had the lead late in games.
He was an superior ball handler and defender. It was like having a coach on the floor as he ran the offenses like a quarterback in football. I can picture him with the ball on his hip giving directions to his teammates as to what offense to run at that time.
Occasionally he would make suggestions for adjustments that were very timely, relevant and important, especially at half-time when we were making adjustment decisions.
The number one reason I went into coaching was to “Teach the life lessons that cannot learned or taught in the academic classroom”.
Artie Mathisen is a great example of a player who learned those life lessons exceptionally well and used them to guide himself through his 20 year military career and now in a leadership role as a CEO at a Vermont hospital.
He learned to play basketball from the shoulders up. He developed a very high basketball IQ during his junior year. This high basketball IQ led him to making excellent basketball decisions. Such as committing few turnovers, few personal fouls, made great passes and had outstanding shot selection.
As I mentioned before it was like having a coach on the floor as exceptionally smart point guards are an extension of the coach.
It’s no surprise to me that Artie has become such a successful triathlon competitor. Once he makes up his mind to do something it was/is hard to hold him back from achieving his life’s objectives in his different chosen careers, be it his basketball, military, triathlon or CEO careers.
Not surprising that he chose the medical field for his military career and for his public/private career as a CEO as he has always been great at leading and giving assists to people.
Again, a big thanks to Ryan McLaughin for this excellent article on Artie. On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the highest, I would give Ryan a rating of nine………………………TEEN.
His article really inspired me to write this BLOG about Artie.