Blue Hill—Fans of the George Stevens Academy boys basketball team over the last decade will be hard pressed to remember a time before head coach Dwayne Carter and assistant/JV coach Matt Mattson were without each other on the sidelines. The duo has become a coaching force in recent years, winning three state championships together, two of which have come in the last two seasons.
The Carter/Mattson era began in 2001, when Mattson held the reins of the varsity team at the young age of 25. Ten years Mattson’s junior, Carter came on as the assistant coach, and the pair won their first championship together in 2003.
Prior to that, though, both coaches were successful players for George Stevens Academy, with Carter assisting in a state championship win and Mattson being one of the school’s 1,000-point scorers.
Mattson left to coach at another school for a couple of years, leaving Carter to take over the program as head coach. When he returned, Mattson took over the freshmen program before finally taking on assistant duties to Carter. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I don’t think people really realize how much work a partnership like ours takes,” said Carter. “It’s like any relationship. I think we bring out each other’s strengths.”
“We have very different personalities, even though we think a lot alike,” added Mattson. “We bring different things and approaches to the game.”
Mattson, whose two sons Max and Caden are both members of the varsity team, said his personality is “very alpha,” and that Carter has a bit more sensitivity when dealing with players.
“We both put the kids first, but there are definitely times where the players respond better to Dwayne than they do to me, and vice versa,” said Mattson.
“But that’s why it works, I think,” said Carter. “I would never make a decision on the court if Matt didn’t support it in some way.”
The pair operates on trust, in each other and in their players, which has ultimately led to their success on the court.
“Look, winning is great, and don’t get me wrong, we hate to lose, but winning goes away,” said Mattson. “One of the best things about coaching is seeing kids after they’re done playing for you, and they’re still genuinely good people.”
“That’s what we want to instill in them, and give them examples of during their time with us,” added Carter. “All the state championships in the world don’t teach that as much as having trust in each other can.”
The two coaches teach that trust by example, as their relationship is based on that very quality.
“During the season, I see Dwayne as much, maybe even more, than I see my wife,” said Mattson. “We’re family, he comes over for dinner. We spend a lot of our time together.”
In 16 years, the coaches have produced some of the best teams in Class C, culminating with bragging rights this year as the two-time reigning state champions. The story is not about the 28-game winning streaks or season-high individual scoring numbers, though. The bigger story is about the atmosphere of success, hard work and dedication that is now expected of the George Stevens Academy boys basketball program.
“One thing that we have in common is we both expect a lot of our kids,” said Carter. “Whether it’s on JV or varsity, they understand that they need to work hard, and most importantly work together.”
“It isn’t necessarily talent that makes a good team,” added Mattson. “It’s about the overall atmosphere, and I think that’s what we’ve created here.”