Edina school gym renamed to honor NU native

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Mary Manderfeld

EDINA — A New Ulm native said to always focus on others, was recently honored by Edina Public Schools after serving the school district in many positions for more than 33 years.

Mary Manderfeld, a 1977 Cathedral High School graduate who excelled in basketball at many levels when the sport was in its infancy for girls and women, was also noted for her hard work, humility, having a positive impact on others, and other attributes.

Edina Public School social studies teacher Steve Collision’s recent request to the Edina School Board to rename the Valley View MIddle School south gym after Manderfeld was approved.

“The big thing that drew me to recognizing her was her work on equity, focusing on making sure everybody feels welcome and gets a quality education despite their income level or where they came from. I learned she really made a difference in the lives of many,” Collison said.

“She was my junior high gym teacher early in her career. I saw her from the perspective as a student and co-worker, seeing how hard she worked as a teacher, administrator and collaborator,” added Collison.

“The only person I had to convince on this was Mary. Her focus was always on others. We’ve not been able to convince her she is deserving,” Collison said.

Manderfeld, whose retirement was approved by the Edina School Board in December, served as the school district’s director of enrollment, school improvement, and equity for more than 10 years.

She was cited by colleagues for leading needed school district changes, particularly in racial equity, leading racial equity training for school district staff, and all initiatives to improve school district equity.

“There are so many people who have done amazing things in Edina Public Schools,” Manderfeld said.

Mary said she became interested in studying education and becoming a teacher because her mother Dorothy worked as a registered nurse in New Ulm.

“She helped deliver many babies in New Ulm,” Manderfeld said. “I liked it in school and got interested in being a physical education teacher. My cousin Nancy was a big influence too.”

A 1972 Cathedral graduate, Nancy Manderfeld worked for Oracle Corp. as a senior sales consulting manager, leading a team of sales consultants that showcased cloud applications. In addition, she has been the Minnesota State High School League Section 6AA secretary to member schools for more than 30 years.

Mary fondly recalled playing high school basketball at Cathedral when girls teams were called the Hushpuppies.

“I remember playing at Mankato Loyola in 1973, my first year in high school when the team got locked into the locker room,” Mary said. “We were just thrilled to play. I had great teammates at Cathedral. New Ulm was a great place to grow up.”

Manderfeld played basketball at Mankato State University before transferring to the University of Minnesota, where her team won the Big 10 Championship in her senior year. The team finished 25-7 and included LInda Robert and Deb Hunter, both of whom have had their Gopher jerseys retired.

“I played with some pretty amazing players,” Mary said.

“Athletics opened a lot of doors for me. You have to work hard, be lucky, and get a few breaks along the way,” Mary said.

She was named to the AIAW All-Region 6 team in 1980. After college graduation, she played professional basketball in Italy for a year before returning to Minnesota to finish her degree, teach and coach.

Mary taught physical education and was assistant athletic director at Edina Public Schools for six years, was an assistant principal for 15 years and assistant director of administrative services for three years.

“Edina Public Schools was a great place to work, live and send my kids to school,” Manderfeld said. “I was very, very blessed to work in that school district with some amazing educators. There are many different languages spoken in Edina which is a good thing. In 1990, the Edina schools student body had less than five percent students of color. Now, it’s 25 percent.”

After the U of M, she continued her education, earning a masters degree in athletic education at St. Thomas College plus an education specialist degree from St. Thomas.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at [email protected]).

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