Here's the article from Bismarck Tribune
By MICHAEL WEBER Bismarck Tribune
Brady Lund plays football at Watford City High School.
In his words, he’s “living the dream of every Watford City boy.”
“Growing up in Watford City all you think about is playing football for coach Fred Fridley,” the senior running back said. “He’s been there forever, and he’s been winning forever. He’s a legend.”
Fridley hasn’t been winning forever, but he’s been winning frequently since he took the head coaching position at Watford City in 1972. On Friday night at Killdeer, the veteran coach notched his 300th career victory as the second-ranked Wolves downed the fifth-ranked Cowboys 15-6 in a key Class A Region 4 contest.
Fridley is the first North Dakota high school football coach to reach the 300-victory mark, but to him, Friday’s milestone win felt as good as the previous 299.
“I’m not feeling any different today than I did before Friday, except that I feel good about winning a big game,” Fridley said Saturday afternoon. “You always feel good about a win, and you’re happy for the players because it’s a reward for the hard work they put into it.
“But winning 300 games is special. That’s quite an accomplishment and it’s something to be proud of. It’s something I want to share with the community, the kids and my assistant coaches. They got me to this point.”
Fridley’s 2010 Wolves are 4-0 and hoping to get their mentor a 10th state championship. Fridley has led Watford City to the state championship game 16 times, winning in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1998, 2006 and 2008. The nine state titles are the second most in North Dakota high school football history. Fargo Shanley’s Sid Cichy, who posted 227 career victories, had 13 titles to his credit.
All 300 victories and 89 losses have come at Watford City, where Fridley has coached the game he loves and shaped young lives for 39 seasons. He came to Watford City in the fall of 1968 and served as an assistant coach for three years before taking on the head coaching duties.
It is a coaching stint that is much longer than Fridley had first anticipated.
“Quite honestly when I started out I didn’t think I’d be here almost 40 years later,” he said. “I thought I would be in it for only a few years. I even thought I would go into a different profession somewhere down the road. But the community, the players, the success of the program ... things like that kept me coming back. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy coaching.”
Those who ask Fridley to share his formula for success will get a simple response — work hard and have some fun.
“I don’t have a secret formula or anything. I just expect my players to work as hard as they can and at the same time have some fun because it is a game,” Fridley said. “We’ve always stressed to the kids that if they work hard enough at something, good things can happen. The kids have always understood that and it shows in the success we’ve had here.
“It also helps to have a community that is very supportive,” he continued. “Football is big in Watford City and it was long before I got here. The kids take pride in their football team and they’re willing to do the things that are necessary to make them winners.”
Lund, one of the numerous all-state players Fridley has coached, said respect for the coach runs deep.
“He certainly has earned it,” said Lund, who rushed for 129 yards in Friday’s victory. “You go into high school football already respecting him because of what he’s done, and you respect him even more every year you play for him.
“The man knows how to coach, and he knows how to deal with every player. You know how much he loves to coach and how much he loves his players. You want to work hard and win for the guy.”
It hasn’t always been rosy for Fridley and the Watford City program these last 39 seasons. There have been some bumps along the way. Like the 1-8 record that his 2003 squad compiled. He played a number of freshmen in what was his first losing season, but three years later, that same class produced a Class AA state championship.
“That year (2003) was tough, but I never really looked at it as a bad year. I looked at it more as a learning experience,” Fridley said. “We went through some growing pains, but the kids learned a lot and they had some fun. It was very satisfying to see those freshmen come back and win a state championship their senior year. They hung in there and got rewarded.”
Fridley, a Dickinson area native, has had opportunities to coach elsewhere, but Watford City has always been home.
“I was asked to coach at different levels, but I never seriously thought about leaving here,” he said. “I enjoy coaching high school kids and Watford City is an ideal place to coach because of the support and the atmosphere.”
Fridley figures he has coached more than 700 boys over the years.
“I’ve coached a lot of kids who are sons of former players of mine,” he said. “I have been around a long time.”
Fridley coached both of his sons, Fred Jr. and Guy. Both played quarterback and went on to carve out successful coaching careers of their own.
Fred Jr., who was a star basketball player at Watford City, Williston State College and North Dakota State University, guided Minot Ryan to a second-place finish in the 2000 Class B boys basketball state tournament, and is now the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Mary. Guy coached the Dickinson State University women’s basketball and softball programs to national prominence.
“One of the biggest highlights of my career was coaching my sons .... not just in football, but in baseball, basketball and golf,” Fridley said. “I’m very proud that they set good examples and performed at a high level. And I’m proud of what they’ve done as coaches, and most importantly, the men they turned out to be.”
Fridley retired from teaching in 1998, but indicated that it might be some time before he thinks about leaving the coaching ranks.
“I can’t say one way or the other right now. All I can say is I love what I’m doing and I’m taking it one year at a time,” Fridley said. “There are former players of mine who have kids in junior high football, and they’re telling me they want me to coach them. That’s a few more years. We’ll see.”
"Here I am to save the day!"