Pitman High graduate Andre Mattson’s journey to the National Basketball League and the New York Knicks as a strength and conditioning coach is one of a dream coming true.
Mattson’s story is one of overcoming the odds and never giving up — even when it seems impossible.
Mattson’s now hopes to give back to the community he grew up in, Turlock.
“I hosted a mini camp through Stanco, but plan on doing camps when I come back in town,” said Mattson. “I have a big plan to teach these kids. I can educate and help train moving forward.”
Mattson is a 2008 Pitman High grad and played four seasons of basketball for the Pride.
It was during his freshman year at Pitman that Mattson found what would become his career path—strength and conditioning.
“It was during that time I got interested in training, frosh year, I was a late bloomer,” said Mattson.
He followed up his career by playing at Merced College then he earned a scholarship to continue playing ball at Sonoma State.
“Junior year my body began to break down and I got surgeries and for six years straight went through stuff — hip injury my junior year and then rehab and I got surgery done again and didn’t play my senior year,” said Mattson. “I kept on training and learning the body couldn’t really run for six years. During my undergrad I dissected cadavers and learned about the action of the muscle and saw how it affects knee and hips since that is where I would get hurt and now, I am healthier than ever. My injuries were blessings in disguise and that is what kind of got me to where I am, learning for resolution off that.”
Mattson graduated from Sonoma State in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology exercise science.
He then attended Point Loma where he graduated with a master’s in Kinesiology, sports performance, in 2016.
He had his eyes set on the highest level and was willing to work long and challenging hours. He started as an unpaid intern at the University of Washington as the strength and conditioning coach.
“Did an unpaid internship at University of Washington in the fall of 2017, which was my favorite college my whole life,” said Mattson. “Got connected with people and improved my resume. I left a paid position at Point Loma to unpaid and was homeless in my car for five months. So much happened outside of it, some people know.”
Thankfully, because of that, Mattson was able to grow in ways he never thought he would.
“I would have blamed myself forever if I quit. I’m very hard on myself, glad it paid off, huge sacrifice. This year since the season ended, for a position like mine, three spots opened and people applied from all over the world,” said Mattson. “Another reason I took the unpaid gig was I knew if I made a sacrifice, it would humble me and I would study so much and be constantly working and growing and losing a lot of comfort. Now, so grateful when I got a roof over my head, things I didn’t think about my whole life. I’m so appreciative and thankful as well; it helped me with my personal growth.”
Following the departure from Seattle, Mattson returned to the place where he earned his master’s degree.
He went back to San Diego and got job as part-time professor at San Diego Miramar community college. But he never stopped pursuing his ultimate goal of working at the top level of basketball.
Following a phone interview with the Knicks in June 2018, Mattson was called for a second interview, where they chose to meet in person in Vegas, since that is where summer ball was happening.
When he was offered the job for the New York Knicks, all the hard work and the unpaid hours paid off more than Mattson expected.
“Hopefully, this can be an Inspiration to somebody in the community in some way since I have seen some people go down a bad path,” Mattson added. “I don’t have a slogan, but I know these monetary things will be temporary, only going to live one time. I want to be proud of what I have accomplished in my life. I always try to capitalize. I am happy with it, if I didn’t try to leave a legacy, it’s not really living. I know it will be difficult, I felt it many times, but I have a goal and to set myself short, I would be upset. Never give up, and live life to the fullest. I can’t put it into words.”
He just did put it into words.