Northern State’s Fredrickson Wins No. 700
“What makes me the most proud about the whole situation is all those wins have come here at Northern,” Fredrickson said. “I have been fortunate to have good people to work with here. Great administrators, and that has made the job easier. It makes you proud when you graduate from a university and you have won a lot of games at that university. That means a lot to me that they have all come here.”
“The thing that is really significant is you do it at one school,” Northern State athletic director Bob Olson said. “That is just really, really special. The measure of great coaches is the longevity, and the longevity of Coach Fredrickson is pretty incredible.”
Fredrickson, 59, graduated from NSU in 1974. He was an outstanding baseball and football player for the Wolves. He spent time as an assistant coach for the NSU football team for 14 years and was inducted into the Northern State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.
Now he has reached another milestone.
“It is almost unheard of,” former NSU player Paula (Stolsmark) Krueger said about the milestone. “There is a select few people that get to that milestone, and the thing that sticks in my mind the most is that he has done all of that at one institution. Seven hundred wins at one place is a pretty impressive thing.”
Fredrickson spent his first two years out of college as an assistant football and basketball coach at Canton High School. He was an assistant under legendary coaches Burdell Coplan (football) and Albert Dietrich (basketball). He then came back to NSU his third year out of college and was a graduate assistant for the football and baseball teams. The following year, he replaced Diane Evans as the head women’s basketball coach.
Fredrickson’s former football coach, Jim Kretchman, who was the athletic director at the time, hired Fredrickson to take over for Evans. Fredrickson experienced immediate success his first season. His first game as the Wolves’ coach was Dec. 6, 1977, which NSU won 83-51 over Jamestown College in Aberdeen. NSU went 23-2 in Fredrickson’s first season in 1977-78.
“When I took over the program, the cupboard was not bare,” Fredrickson said. “There were some good players here, Jane Nicolaisen, Beth Barnes and some of those names that nobody probably remembers anymore, but we had some good players back then. It was fun to coach them. It was fun to coach good players right away as a new coach.”
The Northern women’s basketball team played its home games at Dacotah Hall Gym and played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). The Wolves competed in the AIAW during Fredrickson’s first three seasons as the head coach.
Fredrickson, who was on a part-time pay basis at the time, won 145 games his first six seasons.
He then took a two-year hiatus away from coaching and got into the fast food business as a co-owner of Wendy’s.
“There were some positives about it,” Fredrickson said. “I think it gives you a new perspective on your old job.”
Olson took over as the women’s coach during Fredrickson’s time away, which were the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons. Legendary NSU men’s basketball coach Bob Wachs then retired in 1985 and Olson took over for his former coach. Fredrickson came back as the head women’s coach, but this time on a full-time basis.
“I think in his heart he found out that he was a coach and wanted to coach and the timing just worked out perfect,” Olson said.
The wins kept coming when Fredrickson returned. The Wolves played in five NAIA national tournaments, winning the NAIA II national title in 1991-92 and 1993-94, finishing second in 1992-93, and finishing among the final eight teams in 1994-95.
“I will remember those forever,” said Krueger, who spent time as Fredrickson’s assistant coach and has coached against him as the head coach of the Colorado Mines women’s basketball team. “Playing on those national tournaments and experiencing that with my teammates, and certainly with coach, it is a memory that never goes away.”
Northern joined the NCAA Division II in 1995-96 and success followed. The Wolves have made five NCAA post-season appearances, including falling to eventual national champion North Dakota in the region semifinals in 1996-97. NSU made another region semifinal run in 1997-98 by knocking off perennial Division II powerhouse North Dakota State. The Wolves made their latest national run last season. NSU was eliminated by Adams State in the second round of the national tournament.
“It makes you feel good as a coach when you think you are making young players better and make an impact on their life when they graduate from college and teaching them some lessons about life and so on,” Fredrickson said. “It is very gratifying as a coach for all the things that you can accomplish with your athletes.”
’Born to coach’
Krueger still keeps in touch with Fredrickson and regularly calls her mentor for advice. Krueger, who has more than 100 career coaching wins, added that Fredrickson has been a big reason for any success she has achieved in her coaching career.
“There are some of those people where it is just in your blood and you are born to coach,” Krueger said. “When I think of Coach Fred, that is the first thing I think of. I cannot imagine him any place else, but on the sideline with his arms crossed stomping his feet. That just seems like home for him.”