Posted 7/01/14 (Tue)
By Stephanie Allums
Farmer Staff Writer
For 45 years, Fred Fridley coached Watford City High School football teams - 42 of those years were as head coach. His last year as coach of the Wolves was last season as he has retired now and Justin Johnsrud will take over next year as head coach.
To many players, Fridley was not just a coach. He was a mentor, a leader, a protagonist, a champion, a friend, an idol and the best darn coach many of those young men had seen. Fridley made a difference in the lives of the young men he had the opportunity to coach throughout his years in Watford City.
“Some years we won state championships,” Fridley said. “But some years we didn’t. We still had fun those years though and that’s what it’s all about.”
In 1969, Fridley began his career at Watford City High School as an assistant coach. In 1972, he became head coach of the Watford City Wolves football team.
Among the hundreds of young men he coached on the field, there are three players who have held up a family tradition playing for Fridley.
Fridley coached three generations of the Homiston boys - Tim Homiston, Shane Homiston and Jaryn Homiston.
Jaryn will be a high school senior next year playing for the Watford City football team. His father, Shane, played his last year for Fridley in 1990. And his grandfather, Tim, played his last year in 1970.
“Coaching three generations is pretty awesome,” Fridley said.
“He was assistant coach when I played for him,” Tim said. “He was a young kid who brought in a lot of ideas. He was an inspiration to all of us and very encouraging. Fred had a passion for the game that everyone could see. He pumped you up and wanted to win.”
When Shane, Tim’s son, was in high school, he played varsity football for Fridley for three years before graduating in 1990.
“I cannot say enough good things about Fred,” Shane said. “I learned a lot from him. If you missed an assignment, he would get on you, but build you back up. Some coaches are all negative. But not Fred. He wanted to win, but if everyone put in all that they had and didn’t win, he was still happy.”
Jaryn says he is lucky to have had Fridley as a coach. He said he was looking forward to it his whole life because his dad and grandpa had always talked about how great he was.
“Coach would get down in the dirt with you and get you all amped up,” Jaryn said. “He was an awesome coach.”
Jaryn will finish out his senior year this coming school year.
Jaryn’s 8th grade brother, Jessen, is devastated that he won’t get the chance to have Fridley as a coach in high school like his father and grandfather.
“I wish he could have stayed longer so I could play for him,” Jessen said. “I’ve heard he was a great coach.”
“Fred has lasted the test of time,” Tim said. “There is a reason for that.”
On Saturday morning during the Watford City 100 Year Centennial Celebration, Fridley invited all of his former players to join him for a group photo and to talk about memories and the good old times they had.
“Every group that I talked to, they were saying how great it was playing football and how much fun they had,” Fridley said.
Fridley said to the group of players who showed up on Saturday, “I would like to thank everybody that came by today. We always love talking about football here. I have a lot of great memories and rewards for coaching and it was because of you people - so thank you.”
He received a standing ovation and one player yelled out, “We need one more huddle-up coach.”
The men who were once young boys playing football for Fridley shook his hand, thanked him, hugged him and some shed a few tears as they talked about memories on the field.
“I’m still going to go to all of the games, but enjoy them from the stands,” Fridley said. “I enjoy the games and other sporting events at Watford City High School.”
Fridley said he is excited for the chance to finally see his favorite professional football team, the Green Bay Packers, play.
“Now that I won’t be spending my time coaching in the fall, I will get the chance to go see some professional games,” Fridley said. Even his five-year-old grandson, Paxton, loves the Green Bay Packers.
“Through all of this, my wife, Betty Ann, has been my biggest fan,” Fridley said. “She has always supported me from the stands at every game.”