When the Marina girls' basketball team takes to the floor tonight for its CIF Southern Section playoff game, the Vikings will enter the postseason for the final time under Coach Butch Fredlow, who is stepping down from his post.
"I am leaving because the time for change is good and I want to redirect some of my time and energy to my two sons, Tate (13) and Cole (10), as they begin to seek new adventures in their lives," said Fredlow.
He will remain at the school as a Special Education teacher and coordinator for the Special Education Dept., he said.
Fredlow, who has guided the girls' program for the past 12 years, said he let his team know of his decision after the Vikings rallied from seven points down in the second half of a Feb. 3 Sunset League game to defeat Los Alamitos.
Senior guard Alyssa Kinoshita said that she and the other returning players first heard word of Fredlow possibly stepping down back in the summer.
"We kind of knew it was coming, but it was still tough to hear," said the four-year varsity player who is a three-year starter and two-time all-league player. "He's always intense in practice and he's very competitive. I'm a very competitive person and practices were always challenging.
"One of the things that is really great about him is that he always encouraged team bonding. Not only on the court, but off court, as well. I think that that has really paid off in the way that we play as a team."
Fredlow became head coach of the Marina girls' basketball program in October 1999. Since his initial season, the Vikings have won two Sunset titles and this year marks the 12th consecutive year that the program has earned an automatic bid to the CIF playoffs. Three of his teams have reached the quarterfinal round.
Lindsey Schulze played three years and was on back-to-back league championship teams for Fredlow before graduating in 2006. Like Kinoshita, the shooting guard remembers Fredlow as a dedicated coach.
"It was tough love with him," said Schulze, who is now a senior communications major in her final year at USC. "In practice he was always pushing us to be our best. Basketball taught me not to give up. I remember a big game against J.W. North, in particular. I had a chance to score the winning basket at the end of regulation but missed the shot. I was down but I remember him encouraging me, telling him to keep my head up and that I'll be shooting again in the game. We went on to win in overtime. That moment still stands out for me today.
"I'm sorry to see him leave as coach, but everything has its run and comes to an end. I will always be thankful for his guidance. He's one of the people who really pushed me to get to SC. He definitely made sure I was prepared both on the court and in the classroom. He's like a father-figure to me and we're still really close. He's a great coach."
Fredlow prepped at Ocean View, where he played from Jim Harris from 1981 to 1984. He served as an assistant coach for two years (1986-88) under Roger Holmes, who then was the head coach of the Ocean View boys' junior varsity team. He went on to be Holmes' top assistant when Holmes took over the Marina boys' program and held that position from 1994 to 1999.
"Butch has done a great job since coming to Marina, first as my assistant and then as the girls' head coach," said Holmes, who left as Marina boys' head coach last year and now is the head coach at his alma mater, Fountain Valley. "His teams were always ready, played hard and competed at a high level."
Fredlow says he plans on returning to coaching in the future.
"Right now my focus will be on my sons and when the opportunity arises to coach again, with my sons' blessings, I will do so," he said.
"I am forever grateful for the friendship and guidance that so many have given to me throughout my years at Marina. I will always look back at this period of my life spent coaching at Marina with a smile. It will never be about the destination for me, it will always be about the journey. You only get out of something what you have put into it. My fondest memories will always be about seeing the individual players becoming a solitary unit of teammates and lifelong friends for many of them."