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NLS boys basketball coach Matt Cordes gets helping hand from parents, siblings

In times that scatter grown children coast-to-coast, basketball keeps the Cordes family under one roof -- at least from tip-off to the final buzzer.

Matt Cordes can always count on both technical and emotional support from his family every game.

He's the fifth-year head coach of the New London-Spicer Wildcats (30-1), a team headed for the boys Class AA state tournament starting Wednesday.

At game time, Patsy Cordes, his mother, is seated only a few feet away. She keeps the scorebook for NLS. Chris, Matt's older brother by three years, is just a few rows away recording statistics, like shooting and rebounding. Stephanie Cordes, who is the middle child, also keeps game states, season stats and drives the bus, either a school bus or a coach.

The gymnasium togetherness is nothing new for the Cordes family.

"We lived in the gym (growing up) in Springfield," said Matt.

Springfield High School hired Dick Cordes in 1970 to teach social studies, coach three sports and, oh, yes, pitch for the town's amateur baseball team against rival New Ulm, where both Dick and Patsy grew up.

Patsy started keeping scorebook for basketball right from the start.

Chris graduated in 1985 and then spent three years in the Navy. Stephanie, who graduated the next year, was a cheerleader. Matt attended Springfield through his junior year (about the time Dick and Patsy divorced) before graduating from NLS in 1988.

Dick is a recently retired Minnewaska activities director/community education director. He still works part-time with community education, Patsy said.

"Dick's done some scouting for Matt and helped out with coaching duties in the pre-season," added Patsy. "He likes to get to all the games he can; one time this winter he brought his 91-year-old mother to see the Wildcats play."

Matt said there's little time for small talk with his mom. "Maybe, I'll look over and she might give me a look or a smile," he said. "But usually, I'm pretty focused on the game."

Patsy said the chair at the scorer's table fits her just right.

"My kids like me there," she said. "I'm known as a yeller and, of course, you can't do that at the table."

At Springfield, she found it better to keep book than sit up in the stands and hear the comments of the fans. Not that it would be a problem at New London-Spicer.

"NLS fans are great," she said.

They should be in a good mood. This is the Wildcats second trip to state in three years.

Patsy kept scorebook and also did some P.A. work for 10 seasons at Willmar Community College (now Ridgewater), where both Matt and Chris played for Mike Johnson in the late 1980s.

She supervised the early childhood care program at the college. She also coached cheerleading at Willmar High School and kept book for girls basketball and occasionally announced.

From 1998-2003 Patsy ran the Sunbeam Orphanage at Spanish Towne, Jamaica. The next three years she worked Waukesha Tech College near Milwaukee. That met a 444 mile drive one way to see her son's team play. She's closer now, managing a women's clothing store in the Kandi Mall.

When she's not cheering (silently) for NLS she roots for the Cardinals, except when the teams meet at the Wild-Card Tournament.

"Casey (Sussenguth, Willmar's starting post) is my godson," she said. A grandson, Zach, Chris's son, is on Willmar's sophomore team.

Matt and his wife Raia have three children. The oldest, Maddy, is an eighth grader playing freshman basketball for the 'Cats.

Matt has been youth minister at Peace Lutheran for 10 years. He took a youth group to Jamaica one summer and they built a cement basketball court at the Sunbeam orphanage.

Matt realizes family involvement is a bonus not all coaches get to enjoy.

"It's great to have the whole family involved," he said. "Win or lose, you can always count on them to be there for you."