Athletics: Moen replaces Mortenson as Pillager AD

Matt Moen is set to become the new activites director at Pillager High School starting July 1. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Matt Moen is no stranger to Pillager.

The 41-year-old, who has spent the last seven years in the school district, will take over as activities director for Pillager High School replacing Wade Mortenson who will become Pillager’s middle school principal.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Moen said. “It’s always kind of something that’s always been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do throughout my educational career.”

Mortenson and Moen have worked together in the past. Moen was an assistant to Mortenson when he was Pillager’s girls head basketball coach.

“Matt will do a great job,” Mortenson said. “I’ve known Matt for many, many years. He’s a fantastic teacher in the classroom. He’s good with kids, very organized and he’ll do a great job.”


Moen appreciates having Mortenson nearby during the transition.

“If I have any questions or need any advice, especially in that first year, I’m fortunate in that I have a sounding board in Wade,” Moen said. “We’ve had a long history of being co-workers and a good relationship with one another.”

Moen said Mortenson did a good job when he was AD so his goals aren’t drastically different.

“Wade has done a good job with our coaches,” Moen said. “People like coming to games. The refs like working our games and so just having those positive relationships with other communities and schools is a good thing. I hope to just continue the success the sport teams have had.”

Moen’s been the youth sports coordinator at Pillager the past two years, a role in which he also was Wade’s successor.

“I want to have someone in place that will continue the strong tradition that we have,” Mortenson said. “Matt will do that very well. He’s been doing that as youth sports coordinator. I think it will be a very smooth transition.

“He's a people person. He likes to be around others. He makes it easy to work around him. He can hold kids accountable, but can also have a great relationship with them. He’s well respected by many people and has that personality that people want to be around him.”

One early challenge when Moen takes over July 1 will be handling what high school sports will look like post COVID-19. Moen has been in meetings with Mortenson and getting into the conversation on how things are going to get done.


“We are hoping the fall sports season gets here and we are off and running,” Moen said. “If not then we will have to make the adjustments and changes come August. Hopefully, we are out of this by then, but who knows.”

Mortenson anticipates a smooth passing of the baton.

“We’ve been doing some things together and I’ll be there if he has any questions,” Mortenson said, “but he knows what he’s doing and it’ll be a smooth transition. Sure, it might be a weird, unique fall with the circumstances, but I think it’ll be pretty smooth.”

Moen and his wife Ann live in Pillager and all three of their children go to school in the Pillager district. Moen has worn many hats in the Pillager community most recently coaching junior high girls basketball, where his seventh-grade daughter plays on the team.

In the summer, Moen is the basketball camp director at Pillager where he has brought current NBA player Tyus Jones and former NBA player Christian Laettner to the Pillager gym.

Before moving to Pillager, Moen was the head boys basketball coach at Pine River-Backus.

“My wife and I both come from small towns and we just love the small-town feeling that Pillager has,” Moen said. “It’s a very welcoming community and we are excited for this new opportunity.”


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