Matt and Karen Tracy – Brick And Mortar of a Program

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Matt Tracy was in the middle of the woods, hunting near his home in Superior, Wisc. when he learned that the 1985 Bison football team had earned a bid into the division II playoffs. Speeding back to Fargo, he and Daryl Illikainen couldn’t believe the upsets that transpired over the past weekend that gave the 8-2-1 Bison a chance to appear in its third straight division II championship game.

The redshirt freshmen football players weren’t alone. The Bison entered the final week of the season No. 18 in the rankings, then 12 teams ranked ahead of the Bison either lost or tied. The Bison jumped to seventh and started prepping for their first playoff game.


The 1985 season would conclude with the Bison’s fifth national championship and the first of three for Tracy.

Today, the Bison Hall of Fame class of 2010 inductee lives in St. Michael, Minn. with former Bison track and field athlete Karen Gebeke. The two celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in June.

“I learned so many lessons through football that have become much more applicable and powerful for life after football,” Tracy said over his phone from his office at Boston Scientific, in Maple Grove, Minn. “The lessons Don Morton, Earle Solomonson, Rocky Hager and the staff taught us were immense and I still use (them).”

Tracy has worked at the medical device manufacturer, Boston Scientific, for the past 21 years. Currently, he leads the commercial program management office for Boston Scientific’s corporate accounts and health care solution groups. Sanford is one of the integrated delivery networks that is commercially managed by Tracy’s group.  

The 1988 All-American offensive guard said he likes to remind himself of how lucky he was to play football at NDSU, essentially calling his five years spent as a student-athlete “double-majoring.” The classroom is where he earned his business degree and the football field is where he earned his leadership degree.

“I don’t know if there’s a player that hasn’t had that infiltrate the way they handle themselves with their family or the way they handle their career, or if they’re managing people for their career,” Tracy said.

Karen Tracy ran the 400-meter hurdles, and the 4×100 and 4×400-meter relay races for the Bison. She was the anchor. She arrived in Fargo a year after Matt Tracy in 1985. The two would meet the next spring, three weeks before the end of the school year. She was supposed to go to Air Force to compete in a meet, but stayed behind and ran a meet in Moorhead because her parents were coming to visit. That weekend she met Matt Tracy.[/text_output]

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[text_output]The Tracys have three kids. Josh will be a freshman at the University of Minnesota next year and will run track. “We were up there (Fargo) for a recruiting visit with Coach (Don) Larson and we tried, but unfortunately we didn’t win that battle,” laughed Karen Tracy.

Their middle child is Sydney and she’s one of Minnesota’s best high school basketball players in the class of 2016. She’s already verbally committed to South Dakota State. “We were very impressed with the coaching staff and the program,” Karen Tracy said about a Jackrabbit team that’s made six NCAA tournament appearances. “It feels Bison-like; let’s put it that way.”

There’s still hope for their youngest to become a Bison, but the Tracys aren’t applying any pressure. Jackson will be a freshman at St. Michael-Albertville High School next year and plans on playing football, basketball and running track.

Matt Tracy will join his son on the football team. Although he only volunteers because he doesn’t have enough time to commit as a full-time coach, according to Karen Tracy, he will be at as many practices as he can. He also plans on conducting a “Ram” Camp this summer for the offensive linemen. Borrowing the Ram name that’s used to personify the NDSU offensive line.

The offensive guard that blocked for Harlon Hill Trophy winners Jeff Bentrim and Chris Simdorn remains tied to NDSU as a part of the Team Makers, has gone to three of the four championship games in Frisco and will always cherish the friendships made on the football team. “It looks like you’re at a home game the number of ex-players you run into and ex-coaches. It’s like a reunion,” said Matt Tracy, enjoying the success his class helped build at NDSU.[/text_output]

Matt and Karen Tracy – Brick And Mortar of a Program
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Published eight times a year, Bison Illustrated provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Bison community in order to help promote the university’s players, coaches, alumni, supporters, staff and fans.


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