Jim Souhan
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Tamara Moore is believed to be the only woman today with this job title: head coach of a men's college basketball team. Her story began at Minneapolis North High. She hopes it will culminate with her running a Division I men's program.

Mesabi Range College in Virginia, Minn., announced the hiring of Moore to coach its men's team Saturday on Twitter. Her path from North High is even more intriguing than you might expect.

She starred at North while playing for legendary coach Faith Johnson Patterson, and became the first female to play in a Minneapolis boys' inner-city all-star game, leading to the creation of a similar game for high school girls.

Moore played for Wisconsin, becoming a member of the school's hall of fame. She played for seven different teams in the WNBA, including the Lynx in 2002.

Then she played for five teams overseas, before becoming the owner of a local semipro team, TC Elite, and league, the Official Basketball Association.

"This is not the first time I've coached men," she said. "We won a championship in the second year the league was operating. I was named coach of the year that season. Then I went even further and launched my own semipro men's league. We have 35 teams nationally now.

"The Mesabi job came about in kind of a needle-in-a-haystack way."

Moore succeeded Johnson Patterson as the Edison High girls' basketball coach. One of her players, Serena Poisson, was being recruited by Mesabi's volleyball coach, Sara Matuszak.

"When Sara was doing her research she saw that I was the coach," Moore said. "She reached out and asked if I was the same Tamara Moore that played at North.

"She proceeded to tell me that she had been my guidance counselor at North. She was one of my favorite teachers. She always wanted us to make something of ourselves."

Moore is making a pioneer of herself.

"I do think that way," she said. "But, for me, I have to pay homage and tribute to the women who have paved the way for me. Becky Hammon, Teresa Weatherspoon — the Swin Cashes who have been pushing through the door.'

Hammon is an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and might be on the verge of becoming the league's first female head coach. Moore hopes she can become the first female coach at a men's Division I program.

"My biggest goal, now that this door has been opened, is to make it to D-I," she said. "I don't feel any pressure. I've been in high-stakes operations and games, and I've given the game of basketball my whole life. This is who I am. The pressure means nothing.

"Hey, last year, Mesabi went 6-19. All we can do is get better and go win championships. I'm ready for the challenge."

Mesabi Range College has six athletic teams, and Moore will coach two: softball and men's basketball. The teams compete in the Minnesota Community College Conference and can qualify for regional and national junior college tournaments.

Moore, who turned 40 on Saturday, is an example of the importance of high school activities. When Johnson Patterson started coaching at North, the girls' program was barely functional. She turned the program into a powerhouse.

Moore became a star and launched a basketball career that, this week, has made her the subject of features on ESPN.com and across the country.

"It's been great to see all of the things she was able to build, and create, here in Minnesota," Moore said of Johnson Patterson.

"She took girls' basketball to another level. She won eight championships, and it was a nice feeling that it all started for her at Minneapolis North, with me getting the opportunity to be under her tutelage."

The only woman coaching men's college basketball played at North and coached at Edison, and will be working in Virginia, Minn.

Tamara Moore would be a great story anywhere. She just happens to be trailblazing through Minnesota.