Madison County coaches named fall coaches of the year by Montana Coaches Association
Coach Fredrickson—championship-winning football in Ennis
After an undefeated season, a state championship and a good portion of the team being named all state for football, Ennis football Coach Jay Fredrickson has one more accolade to add to the list.
The Montana Coaches Association (MCA) named Fredrickson Class C Fall Coach of the Year for football. According to Don Olsen, executive director for the MCA, members of the association are sent a ballot with the top four finishers in each sport for each class to select a winner from.
“[Fredrickson] was not only the state champion, but he was also selected by a vote of his Class C peers for this honor,” Olsen said. “Congratulations to [Fredrickson], the Mustangs and the Ennis community.”
Fredrickson believes winning the state championship assured his selection.
“Winning the championship has been a dream of mine for a long time,” he said. “As a coach, of course you are in it for the kids, but you also need to set your goal at winning a state championship… if you do not do that, you are not looking high enough.”
Fredrickson is quick to credit the group of boys he coached this year as making the season a “tremendous” success.
Ennis principal John Sullivan is the father of one of the boys Fredrickson coached, senior Connor Sullivan. As a parent and a school administrator, J. Sullivan believes the coach of the year award is a well-deserved honor.
“From a parent’s standpoint, I was glad my kid had the opportunity to play for [Fredrickson],” he said. “More importantly than just teaching my kid to play football, he taught him how to play with his heart and develop as an individual.”
It is J. Sullivan’s opinion that Fredrickson taught the Mustangs how to win, but also how to lose graciously, remain good sportsmen and conduct themselves as mature, well-adjusted adults.
“[Fredrickson] and his coaching staff have put a tremendous amount of time into the program—with the kids but also planning and developing plays and everything,” Sullivan said. “The coaching staff really deserves credit too. It takes the entire staff to win games and win awards. This is one [Fredrickson] will cherish and really deserves, but also one I am sure he will share with his staff.”
Coach Nancy Gesling—a cross country legacy in Twin Bridges
Nancy Gesling is the first to say how difficult it is to repeat as the best in the state, but somehow she and the Twin Bridges girls’ cross country team have done it.
For the second year in a row, Gesling and the Lady Falcons ran away with the Class C girls’ cross country team title and Class C girls’ cross country Coach of the Year. The Montana Coaches Association awarded the coaching title earlier this month.
“It’s an honor,” Gesling said. “I think it is nice the Montana Coaches Association recognizes the coaches.”
Twin Bridges also holds the individual Class C girls’ cross country title. Jessica George was the top runner among Class C participants at the state meet the past two years.
Gesling has coached the runners—junior high, high school, boys and girls—for five years. She said she made the decision to put her name in for the coaching position when she saw it advertised.
“I did not think Twin Bridges would have a (cross country) program,” she said. Gesling added that when cross country started up five years ago she thought her experience running cross country and track, as well as coaching track for the Falcons, gave her a chance to acquire the cross country position.
Success was almost immediate for the teams. During the program’s first year, the girls finished seventh at state and moved up in the standings each subsequent year from sixth to third and then first the past two years.
The boys’ cross country team continues to perform well and place high throughout the season, especially at the state meet. They placed sixth their first year at state and then took fourth, third and second the next three years. This year, injuries hampered the Falcons’ chances of another high finish. The boys placed 12th as a team this fall.
Besides injuries, Gesling said another challenge the runners face is being spread too thin. Some of the runners also compete in other fall sports—football or volleyball—and everyone must work around the other sports’ schedules. Gesling said all the work to accommodate these different schedules is worth it, and she does her best to give as many kids as possible an opportunity to run.
“The other sports are team sports and so they need to be there to practice their position,” Gesling said. “I recognize that and the kids have to have pretty good commitment too.”
Commitment is not lacking, according to Gesling. She credits the runners with putting in the time and work, which helps her planning and coaching become beneficial in the end. Gesling said she can have the best plans, but if the kids do not execute them, they will not work.
“The biggest fulfillment for me is seeing the kids do their best,” she said.
Gesling also credits the program’s success to the community. Not only do the runners cheer on their teammates and opponents, but also parents and other community members show great support for her and the Falcons.