Head Coach Lisa Gustafson (center) pulls her team in during a timeout at the 2013 state tournament .


Lisa Gustafson, the head volleyball coach at Mora High School for the last 18 years, has retired her position, Director of Athletics Kris Osterdyk announced.

“I would like to thank Lisa for her years of service with the volleyball program,” Osterdyk said in a statement. “She has done a nice job on and off the court while creating many fond memories for her student athletes. We will have some big shoes to fill moving forward.”

Gustafson was  299-197 (.659) with four ties in tournaments in 18 seasons at Mora. She won her 299th victory on senior night in Mora vs Zimmerman on Oct. 19, 2021. 

She is the longest tenured volleyball coach in Mora High School history and is the only Mora volleyball varsity coach to record 299 overall wins.

Before Mora

Gustafson played varsity volleyball at Cosmos High School in central Minnesota, where she earned all-conference and all-area player awards. “Our team was state consolation champs in ‘86 and were section runners-up in ‘87,” said Gustafson. She went on to play both volleyball and softball at the University of Minnesota-Morris. 

Prior to taking over as Mora’s varsity coach, Gustafson coached at Wheaton-Herman-Norcross for one year and four years at Onamia. Gustafson coached a total of 25 years in Mora while teaching at Mora Elementary. She coached one year of C-Squad and six years as the JV coach within Mora’s program. She also coached 10 years in Mora’s softball program (both JV and eighth grade). 

Mora Dominates the Volleyball Court

In Gustafson’s 18 year tenure as varsity coach, the program has endured multiple conference changes. When Gustafson took over in 2004, Mora was in the Rum River Conference. Mora then joined the West Central Conference in 2008 before arriving in the Granite Ridge Conference in 2011. 

 Gustafson coached three first-place Rum River Conference championship teams from 2005-2007, which included one runner-up in 2004. In Mora’s inaugural season in the Granite Ridge Conference in 2011, Mora finished runner-up. Mora had the same results in 2012 before winning the Granite Ridge Conference in 2013 and 2014.  

 Gustafson’s volleyball squads finished their prospective seasons as 5AA subsection runners-up from 2007-2010 and finished second place in the 7AA section in 2011. 

The efforts of Gustafson and her players helped her earn a 5AA Section Coach-of-the-Year award in 2010. Former player, Kelsey (Erickson) Nolt (class of 2009) said, “My favorite volleyball experiences include my teammates, big wins and always making it to sub-section finals. Those games were always so intense and we had the best fans that would travel to games and be such a great support system.”

In 2012, Gustafson’s team took home the first place 7AA Section trophy by beating Hermantown. One of Gustafson’s favorite memories took place when Mora beat Hermantown to move onto state. “We lost the first set 27-29, but regrouped to win the next three straight sets. The fans stormed the court and the team was ecstatic about our first trip to the state tournament.” Mora made two more state tournament appearances in 2013 and 2014 by beating Greenway both times in the 7AA section finals. 

Mora fought hard in each of the three state appearances but lost each time to the eventual state champions. “Going to State my sophomore, junior and senior year was fun,” said former player, Stephanie (Cannon) Graves (class of 2014). “It was so fun taking the trip to the Xcel, getting to go to the state banquet and playing on such a big platform with great friends!” 

Gustafson as a coach

“I will never forget the biggest impact moment that Lisa had on me,” said Graves. “I let a ball land in front of me without diving for it. Lisa let me have it for not giving my full effort. At first I was hurt by it but after that, there was never a ball that landed in front of me without me putting 110% effort. That learning lesson made me into the volleyball player I became and I’m so thankful to Lisa for doing that. That’s what makes a great coach, constructive criticism while simultaneously supporting each player and that is what she did for our team.” Graves turned out to be Mora’s record holder for kills (1,210) and was an All-American player at the University of Wisconsin Stout, where she holds the record for most digs (2,232).

“Lisa has greatly influenced me as a student, person, player, teacher and coach,” said Nolt. “She instilled many life lessons that I still carry with me today. One of the best things Lisa has taught me is to rise to expectations and as a coach, to hold others to high expectations. I appreciate that she held myself and my teammates to those standards because they made us better people and players.” 

“I will miss the interaction with the athletes the most,” said Gustafson. “It will be strange not to have daily conversations and future planning with them. I will miss sharing my passion for the game and watching athletes improve.”