Destroying the competition: Hayfield grandma offers unique motivation

Published 7:16 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

HAYFIELD — In some ways Nancy Matti is your typical grandma. She saves newspaper clippings of her granddaughter Olivia Matti’s teams, she hands out treats to players on game days and she hosts team dinners.

In other ways, Nancy is a little different. Her slogan is ‘Destroy Them,’ and she often texts that phrase to players or shouts it out during games. She’s been known to show up to games in full face paint to cheer on the Hayfield Vikings.

Nancy’s unique approach to supporting the team has been a strong one and Olivia has certainly appreciated the support over the years.

When Hayfield senior Olivia Matti needs a lift, she always turns to her grandma Nancy for some advice. Rocky Hulne/

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“’Destroy them’ is her motto and I think that’s cute because she’s a tiny, little lady,” Olivia said. “Sometimes when I’m having a bad game, I feel like I really need to hear from her and it gets me going.”

Nancy has been supporting the Hayfield Vikings ever since she moved to town 55 years ago. Since her husband coached baseball and basketball, Nancy was a statistician and she learned the nuances of following high school sports.

Ever since Olivia started playing varsity sports as a freshman, Nancy has made sure to attend every game she can, whether it be volleyball, basketball or softball. She’ll certainly be on hand when the Vikings play in their fourth straight Minnesota Class A State Tournament this Thursday and Friday in Mankato.

Nancy Matti of Hayfield talks a little softball with Hayfield senior Kyal Heydt as Olivia Matti and Maggie Streightiff look on before practice in Hayfield Monday morning. Rocky Hulne/

“Luckily I’ve had bunches of grandchildren that have played sports and it’s been really fun to watch the Vikings through all of these years,” Nancy said. “This is a special group of girls and it’s been really fun to be with them. They’re talented academically, musically and athletically.”

Nancy said she took on the phrase ‘Destroy Them’ when the Vikings played a little tentatively in the state tournament in 2015.

“The very first year they went to state they were awe struck like deer in the headlights,” Nancy said. “Last year I wanted them to be aggressive and I wanted them to destroy.”

Hayfield senior Maggie Streightiff said she can always pick out Nancy’s voice in a crowd and it always brings joy and motivation to the Vikings.

“She brings a lot of team spirit, that’s for sure. We love seeing her in the stands cheering us in every game,” Streightiff said. “You’ll be in the huddle and you’ll hear ‘come on blue, let’s destroy!’ You know it’s Gram.”

Nancy said she will continue to follow Hayfield’s senior class as many of them go on to play college sports. She also has another grandson getting close to high school, so she’ll likely still be in the stands cheering next year.

Hayfield head softball coach Jana Wagner said Nancy has been a welcomed presence with the team.

“Nancy has always been a big supporter of her family and her family enlarges when her grandkids are playing ball,” Wagner said. “She comes around and gives you that cute little smile and tells them to ‘go get’em.’

Nancy Matti speaks to her granddaughter Olivia after a softball game. Photo Provided