It’s a measure of longevity as much as success.
At least, that’s the easiest conclusion to draw from Blue Valley Northwest boys basketball coach Ed Fritz’s reaction to joining the 500-win club.
Asked if he feels any different, Fritz replied without hesitation, “Nope, just old.”
Now in his 11th season with the Huskies, Fritz notched career win No. 500 last Saturday in a victory against De La Salle, the reigning Class AAA champion in Minnesota, at the 2013 Timberwolves Shootout at the Target Center in Minneapolis, home of the Twin Cities’ NBA franchise.
It was a surprising win.
“I really didn’t think we were going to go up there and beat them,” Fritz confessed.
Of course, nothing really surprises an old ball coach like Fritz — not after stints in the college ranks at Baker and Nebraska-Kearney, where he was an assistant coach, along with the 15 seasons he spent at Center High School in Kansas City before moving to BV Northwest.
All told Fritz has logged 33 seasons as a basketball coach — and he’s never lost his love for coaching or teaching the game.
While winning No. 502 on Friday night at home, a 77-49 romp against Gardner Edgerton, Fritz was displeased with the Huskies’ half-court defense in the second quarter — even with a 35-16 lead — and didn’t mince words during a timeout.
Undefeated BV Northwest, which improved to 6-0, was never seriously threatened — leading 44-16 at halftime and by as many as 35 in the second half — but Fritz doesn’t want his team to get complacent.
He never has.
“He’s a workhorse,” Fritz’s son, Vince, a Huskies junior, said of his dad. “He just keeps on going and keeps on top of it. Saying he’s passionate would be an understatement. He stays after it and gets tougher every game.”
Of course, he’s also beloved for it.
Many of Fritz’s former players were on hand Friday night for a Huskies alumni gathering, but several players from his days at Center also dropped in to share a hug and postgame conversation in celebration of the just-achieved milestone.
“I don’t know if it’s about the wins and losses,” said his wife, Ann, who coaches girls basketball at BV North and reached 400 career wins herself last season. “It’s more about the kids who have come through and the relationships with all the kids you’ve helped.”
For Ed Fritz, perhaps the best part of the journey to 500 victories is that he reached the summit with a team that includes his son.
“That’s something he’s always dreamed of,” Ann said. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities to coach your own son, so that’s been something very special for him.”
That made reaching the milestone extra special.
Three other BV Northwest players — Clay Custer, Kyle Harrison and Ben Richardson — have played with Vince and for Ed since third grade.
“It’s pretty amazing, because it’s such a huge accomplishment, and it’s also amazing that we’re a part of it,” Richardson said.
It certainly made the moment unforgettable.
“We had a big banner and gave him the ball right after the game at the Target Center,” said Vince. “It was a big arena, and we had a lot of support from the family, our parents and the cheerleaders. It was pretty special.”
Of course, these Huskies are on a mission.
The program reached Kansas Class 6A state tournament in each of the last three seasons, but Fritz has yet to notch his first state championship.
That being the case, BV Northwest certainly hopes 500 wins was only the first milestone for this season.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.