Munising Neighbors Share In Successes

February 28, 2017

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

MUNISING – It would be hard to believe there are many more accomplished neighboring homes than those of Marissa Immel and Frankie Mattson in Munising.

Between them, the Munising High School seniors are both 4.0 students, share their class’ top spot academically, and will graduate with a combined 41 varsity athletic letters, a staggering 21 by Immel.

Both serve on a variety of clubs, with Immel on the MHSAA Student Advisory Council that requires her to travel some six hours each way to Lansing once a month. And they hope to lead the Mustangs downstate together to finish this basketball season, with the first step a Class C District opener Wednesday against Ishpeming.

“We’ve been able to push each other through the years to be the best we can be,” said Immel. “We really try to manage our time the best we can. We plan things out ahead of time.

“Sports mean a lot to me. It is something my family values. School comes first, then sports. It teaches a lot of life lessons, and it is really fun to participate and learn new things.”

The connection began before they were born.

Their mothers, Bette (Jahn) Immel and Carrie (Hamilla) Mattson, played on rival teams during high school, at Manistique and Munising, respectively. Immel was the girls basketball coach for grades 3-6 and her husband Dale was coach for grades 7-8, with Frankie’s dad Matt their high school basketball coach.

Both girls topped the 1,000-point scoring mark this season, and the passes that put them into that club came from each other. Mattson, a center, is approaching 1,000 career rebounds. Immel is the team’s point guard.

The athletic success they have shared is incredible. Their basketball team finished the regular season 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the media’s Upper Peninsula Class A-B-C poll. Both were part of two U.P. Finals tennis titles, Mattson at No. 1 singles and Immel at No. 2 doubles. That tennis success was difficult because Munising has just two courts in town and all the meets are on the road.

They also helped the Mustangs collect four volleyball District titles and three Regional track & field titles, with both earning all-state in the latter.

Both girls played five varsity sports each year, Immel going one-up in letters by running cross country – as a freshman in 2013 she was individual runner-up at the U.P. Division 3 Final as Munising won the team title. Both girls also play golf.

With an enrollment of just more than 200 students, Munising allows athletes to play two sports in the same season to increase participation – but they must pick a sport as their priority for when both teams have events on the same day.

Mattson said the neighbors “hang out all the time. We go to open gyms; we lift weights together. I see Marissa as a support system, and that helps us get through everything we do.”

They go to meetings together – both are in Key Club and student council (Mattson is vice-president, Immel is treasurer) – and Immel is president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter while Mattson is secretary. Both have earned all-state recognition from the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and both serve on the Alger Regional Community Foundation youth advisory council.

“We have meetings for our clubs, we practice every day. You’re only in high school once, so you might as well do what you can,” said Mattson.

Basketball is the favorite sport for both girls. “We have played together for so long (since first grade) that I know what she is thinking, and the same thing with her,” said Mattson. “It has helped our bond. I put all my trust in Marissa to run plays. It is so awesome that I can depend on her.”

The key to their basketball success, said Immel, is “our whole team came together and we support each other. We try to get everyone involved. Our whole team participates in our success.”

Mattson knew the pass from Immel set up her 1,000th point, but did not realize her pass to Immel for 1,000 did it until the crowd began celebrating. “It was awesome,” she said.

For point guards, like Immel, reaching 1,000 points does not happen as often because that position requires more passing than shooting. “We move it around a lot,” said Mattson. “She’s very gracious with her passes, and she shoots when she’s open.

“The key to basketball is we have all matured and we’re seniors. We’re here to show everyone what we have been working for the last couple of years.”

Having her father as head coach helps make all the success more special. “It is honestly awesome, knowing he is my support system at home and on the court,” she said.

They will bring the game home and talk about team and individual aspects and look at film together. “There is no harm talking about good things or bad things. There is no tension between us,” Mattson said.

Immel said “it is crazy to think that we’re almost done with all these sports. It will be different without having that much going on in our lives.”

Immel plans to join her sister Katie at Michigan State University and possibly study speech pathology. Mattson plans to attend either Michigan Tech or Central Michigan for an educational degree.

Another classmate, Bailey Downs, also has earned 20 varsity athletic letters.

Denny Grall retired in 2012 after 39 years at the Escanaba Daily Press and four at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, plus 15 months for WLST radio in Escanaba; he served as the Daily Press sports editor from 1970-80 and again from 1984-2012, and served as interim sports editor during most of the 2016-17 school year. Grall was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and serves as its executive secretary. E-mail him at with story ideas for the Upper Peninsula.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising's Frankie Mattson (left) and Marissa Immel stand with posters celebrating their 1,000th career points scored this season. (Middle) Mattson works the post during a 2015-16 game against Newberry. (Below) Immel puts a shot up over the outstretched hands of a Rapid River defender. (Top photo courtesy of the Immel family, action photos by the Marquette Mining Journal.)

Teams of the Month: Hart Girls & Boys Basketball

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 23, 2023

Few communities in Michigan this winter celebrated as many sizable basketball achievements as small-town Hart.

The 2,000-resident Oceana County seat, about seven miles off the Lake Michigan shore and sitting about 20 miles south of Ludington and 30 north of Muskegon, celebrated accomplishments by both its girls and boys basketball teams that carried statewide significance – and made choosing either over the other’s impossible.

The Hart girls and boys basketball teams are the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Teams of the Month” for February, and this announcement is coming toward the end of March as both just kept winning and adding to their season-long lists of feats.

The Pirates girls made the first major headline when they defeated second-place Mason County Central 51-32 on Feb. 10 to clinch the outright West Michigan Conference Rivers championship. The Hart girls had also won the formerly one-division WMC in 2021-22, and this year’s run ran their league winning streak to 31 games.

Then the boys took their turn, clinching a share of the Rivers championship Feb. 17 with a 67-51 win over North Muskegon and then the title outright by defeating Mason County Central 63-45 on Feb. 23. This league title received some statewide buzz as it was the Hart boys’ first since 1963.

A week later, Hart’s boys finished a 22-0 regular season – becoming the only boys team, and joined by only three girls teams – to go 22-0 this first season that MHSAA member schools were allowed to play 22 games instead of the previous longtime maximum of 20.

The Hart boys then drew into one of the strongest Districts in the state in any division, with the Division 2 group at Big Rapids including four league champions. The Pirates opened with a win over the host Cardinals – winners of the Central State Activities Association – before ending their season at 23-1 with a loss to Big North Conference co-champ Cadillac in the District Final.

The Pirates girls, meanwhile, had clinched their Division 3 District with a third win over Mason County Central, and then won a Regional by edging two-time reigning Finals runner-up Kent City 37-34 – in the process also avenging Hart’s first loss of this season, from Dec. 20. The Regional title was the Hart girls' first since 1992.

Next up was 23-1 Buchanan – and Hart made its biggest statewide splash by handing the Bucks a 45-41 Quarterfinal defeat that sent the Pirates to the MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals for the first time.

Hart would end up falling to eventual champion Hemlock 57-26 at Breslin Center, finishing the season 24-4.

“I said it the other day: We’re kinda overlooked. Last year we had a really good team, probably one injury away from another run like this,” said Hart girls basketball coach Travis Rosema during the press conference after the Semifinal. “It started with people investing into the girls. Now that players like Aspen (Boutell) and Abbey (Hicks) have made this run, I saw so many young faces. … We left this morning, the elementary school was packed, and every kid had a sign. It’s a positive impact (and) it’s going to be a lot moving forward.”

The Pirates girls were keyed by Hicks, a junior, sophomore Addi Hovey and Boutell, one of three senior starters.

The boys were paced by senior Parker Hovey, who went over 1,000 points for his career and will continue at Hope College.

Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23

January: Taylor Trillium Academy bowling - Report
Byron Center hockey - Report
Martin football - Report
Gladwin volleyball - Report
Negaunee girls tennis - Report

(PHOTOS by Kara Raeth/CatchMark SportsNet.)