Thanks, Coach

Let’s hop in the Wayback Machine for a trip down memory lane.

This story begins around 1984. I’m a gangly (true story) sophomore aimlessly wandering the halls of Brookings High School. 

Like many 15-year-old boys, I lacked focus and really had no “plan” for future. Just pretty much lived day to day hoping teachers wouldn’t hand out too much homework and my mom would make lasagna, or one of her delicious dishes that I would eat way too much of later that night.

And sports. Man, did I love sports. Basketball was my chosen sport at the time. I spent a ton of time shooting baskets on the old hoop attached to our garage near Lake Campbell. Thank God for three-channel TV and one Atari between all five of us kids. That kept me out of the house and allowed me to practice and practice and practice.

In 1984 I wanted to be on the varsity basketball team. Something. Anything. A small role. Just a uniform. A chance to warm up before the game while the band played and cheer the team on.

That Bobcat team was terrific. Seniors Tracy Odegaard and Pat McClemans played guard; Todd Hofland and Tony Kirchmeier held down the forward spots, with big Tad Nelson in the post. 

I was a decent player on the sophomore team but not quite good enough to earn a uniform for a varsity team that finished third in the Class A state tournament. “Coach” said I was close to getting a varsity spot and to just keep working hard. I believed him. 

I continued to practice relentlessly. Open gym. Shooting at home, attending summer basketball camps – whatever it took. I wanted to be good. Coach kept pushing me. Encouraging me. 

I earned a starting spot as a junior on a Bobcat team that finished right around .500. I also earned second-team Class A honors that year. I was looking for big things my senior year. It didn’t start out so great personally as my dad was sentenced to prison. 

Even though I didn’t ask him to, coach picked me up every Sunday and took me out to eat. Just to talk. And make sure I was doing OK. He didn’t have to do that. He was hired to teach and coach, not be my personal caretaker. He did it anyway because he cared.

We had a fantastic season in 1986. For historical perspective – some of the names on that team – Scott Holm, Kevin Nelson, Jeff and Jim Booher, Bob Vorhees and Will Ellerbruch. As a team we scored about 65 points a game, which was pretty impressive in the pre-shot clock era. There was also no 3-point line. Yes, we had baskets and nets. 

I remember a few years after that season coach told me the 1986 squad was the best passing team he had ever coached. All five starters averaged double figure scoring, which is indicative of how we shared the ball. 

We stopped Mitchell’s 47-game winning streak that year but eventually lost a heartbreaker to the Kernels in the Class AA (the first year of three-class basketball in the state) title game in Rapid City.

Coach hugged me when I was crying after my final basketball game. I was sad my dad wasn’t there. Coach assured me that my dad would have been there if he could have and that he knew dad was proud of me.

There are countless other young student-athletes that coach Lynn Frederick impacted during his tenure as boys’ and girls’ basketball coach in the Brookings School District. I’m just one of the stories, but I know there are countless others.

Coach Frederick’s coaching career at BHS ended last spring with very little fanfare. Abruptly his coaching contract wasn’t renewed. At the time he was coaching the Bobcat girls’ varsity. His time at the helm of the boys’ program ended in the late ’90s.

I spoke to coach last May and told him the Register would like to do a story. Offer him the chance to tell his story. He didn’t want a story. He didn’t want to steal the spotlight from the players. 

I decided to tell his story first. Coach is not big for the limelight. He always wanted it to be about his players. 

This one’s for you, coach.


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