Girls Track Coach of the Year: Lake Central’s Ron Fredrick
ST. JOHN — Some people are afraid of heights. Others are scared by snakes, insects, or petrified to fly.
Lake Central girls track coach Ron Fredrick’s greatest fear?
“I have this terrible fear of losing,’’ he said.
Losing is foreign to Fredrick’s teams — considering they lose about as often as presidential elections roll around.
The Indians have won 43 straight Duneland Athletic Conference meets, including six straight titles. Their last DAC loss was inflicted by Valparaiso in 2007.
Then there’s a streak of 22 straight sectional crowns and five regional titles in the last six years (Munster won in 2010).
“My goal is to run the table every year, and why not?’’ Fredrick said. “Why would you go into a season thinking you’re going to lose something? I can’t tell the kids: ‘We hope to lose only one or two meets this season.’
“Our goal always is to go unbeaten. What drives me is that I hate to lose. I can’t even imagine waiting around at the end of a big meet to hear the final team scores and have the announcer say: ‘In second place, is Lake Central.’ I just can’t imagine how bad I would feel when, and if, that happened.’’
It never really seems to matter how many of his athletes graduate, or exactly how many top performers he loses, Fredrick always seems to somehow maintain success. He has a real penchant for tinkering with his personnel to reload his team.
After losing Indiana All-Stars Shelby Carroll, Andrea Alvarez and LaVisa Evans in 2012 — along with thrower Emily Thompson — Fredrick didn’t flinch.
Instead, he focused on a talented handful of key performers — Kaitlyn Moricz, Katie Brown, Riley Wayco, Brooke Lambert and Jessica DelBovo — and filled in around them a strong group of 32 freshmen and sophomores.
“I knew we’d be strong at the top,’’ Fredrick said. “It was just a matter of putting our best people in the right places and getting the new girls to buy into what we want to do.’’
Sophomore Renee DiNino, who specializes in sprints and relays, is a firm believer in Fredrick.
“Since the first day I came to conditioning as a freshman, he’s always pushed harder and gotten all of us to work as hard as we could,’’ she said. “He teaches us never to give up. He’s good at building you up when you’re down. He concentrates on positives — not negatives. He gives you a goal to meet and provides motivation for you. He gets you ready for a race.’’
Kristina Hemmerling, a 2010 LC grad, who now hurdles for St. Joseph’s College, claims she wouldn’t be where she is today without Fredrick.
“He asked me as a freshman to be a hurdler, and I thought he was crazy, because I had short legs,’’ smiled Hemmerling, while taking a break from an offseason workout at Clark Middle School.
“He said I had good balance and athleticism. He was right. I made it to sectionals and fell in love with hurdles. He’s the reason I’m in college track right now. He’s just really great. He tries so much and plans so well. He really cares about the girls and the team a lot. He has great communication skills, which is very important. He motivates you as an individual and as a team.
“He puts so much time into coaching. I swear, I used to think he slept in his classroom some nights after our track meets, and didn’t make the drive back (home) to Rensselaer.’’
Due to construction, LC’s track teams practiced at Clark this season.
Despite the inconviences, Fredrick’s program continued to perform at a championship level — scoring higher than any area team at state.
“The key to our season were those two, big early meets,’’ said Fredrick, pointing to invites at Carthage College (Wis.) and The Legends Classic in Cincinnati.
Even though 31 teams competed at Carthage, and 22 at Cincy, LC managed to earn team titles.
“Part of the reason we go to meets like that is to give the newcomers a taste of a big meet atmosphere,’’ Fredrick said. “I like doing that. Both are overnight trips. It’s a bonding experience for the kids and it helps build team spirit and develop camaraderie. We always figure if we can win (those meets), we can win the regional.’’
Besides, Fredrick can’t stand even the thought of losing.