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Distinguished Alumni: Lois Mattice rose through the ranks to help hundreds of Sac State student-athletes succeed

Over a lengthy career as a Sac State Athletics trainer and administrator, Lois Mattice helped thousands of student-athletes succeed both in their chosen sports and inside the classroom. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Lois Mattice was in fourth grade in 1972 when the landmark federal civil rights law Title IX took effect, opening doors to girls and women in organized sports.

Many years later, she would coordinate the Sacramento State Athletics Department’s compliance with the law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at schools and other institutions that receive federal funding.  

From a young age, Mattice cultivated an appreciation for sports and the people who play them. Her interest spurred her to become a certified trainer and eventually Sac State’s associate athletics director.

For her dedication to the success of hundreds of Sac State’s student-athletes, Mattice will receive a Distinguished Service Award from the University’s Alumni Association during a celebration and dinner also honoring other noted alumni on Thursday, Oct. 13.

In a nearly four-decade career, Mattice has helped student-athletes succeed in sports and academics by overseeing their health and wellness, offering emotional support, and helping them prevent and care for injuries. She retired in 2020 but recently returned to campus part time “doing odds and ends” in the Athletics Department.

“They needed someone with 40 years of institutional knowledge,” she said.

Mattice began accumulating that knowledge upon enrolling at Sac State, where in 1987 she earned her undergraduate degree in Physical Education with a concentration in Athletic Training. In 1994, she obtained her master's degree from Sac State in the same major with an emphasis on Sport Performance.

“The most fun I have is seeing former student-athletes succeed, and watching where they end up. I’ve known some of them since they were 18 years old.” -- Lois Mattice

She became an athletic trainer at the University in 1988, working primarily with women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball players. Mattice also traveled with the volleyball team. She continued to oversee athletic training after becoming an administrator in 2006.

“I couldn’t give it up,” she said. “It allowed me to keep a pulse on our student-athletes, and continue to interact with them.”

Over the years, she saw former players become coaches and professional athletes. Among the notable individuals who crossed Mattice’s path are Lori Perez, a former Sac State softball player and current head coach, and Alyssa Nakken, a former Sac State softball standout and current coach for Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

“The most fun I have is seeing former student-athletes succeed, and watching where they end up,” Mattice said. “I’ve known some of them since they were 18 years old.”

Mattice was born in Montana and spent part of her early childhood overseas. She said she was not a great athlete.

“I threw a ball around with my dad, and played a little tennis with my sister, but that’s about it,” she said. “I used to run a bit, but only for recreation and my health.”

Upon entering college, “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” she said. “But I was interested in athletics, and I stumbled across this thing called athletic training.”

Doris Flores, then a professor of Kinesiology and an athletic trainer, was her advisor. Flores, now retired, called Mattice caring, dedicated, and extraordinarily energetic.

“During my 44 years at Sac State, Lois had the very best work ethic of any student, and she continues to give 100%,” said Flores, who counts Mattice as a close friend.

“She really connected with the athletes and gave them her undivided attention in caring for their injuries,” Flores said. “She always shares her knowledge, skills and experiences to help make students, athletes, and colleagues better. I do not know of anyone else at Sac State who has worked more hours than Lois.”

During the early years, Mattice said the rigors of the job forced her to sacrifice time with her husband Carter, who works in Kinesiology at Sac State, and their son Michael.

“There were lots of nights, lots of weekends, on the job,” she said. “There are lots of emergencies in athletics. I didn’t ever cook, and my husband was Michael’s primary caregiver.”

But her job also has been “a joy,” she said. “We have such a bond in our department. We’re a big, happy family.”

Mattice said she is grateful for opportunities Sac State afforded her and humbled by her Distinguished Service Award.

“Sac State has been a lifeline for me,” she said. “I was kind of a lost soul when I came here, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t stay. But look at me now. Forty years later. I’m still here.”

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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