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Commentary: Senior doesn’t understand coaching move, can’t get answers

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Seldom has reporting a single coaching move generated as much email, social media and phone calls as the recent removal of Pete Froedden and most of his staff at Centennial.

After being named the boys’ basketball Coach of the Year in District 11-AAA, Froedden was shown the door to the locker room with most of his staff, despite sources saying that only one assistant was involved in a bizarre and over exuberant attempt to prove a TSSAA decision on eligibility was wrong.

Only assistant Megan Moore, who has been thrust into the role of day-to-day operations for the basketball program, escaped the “throw the baby out with the bathwater” approach the Centennial administration, headed by Principal Chris Hames, implemented.

The support for Froedden is running 9-1 in favor of the coach from parents, players, and other members of the community. None more strongly than Cougar senior player Garrett Justice.

“I came in to Centennial the same time as (Froedden) and am one of the three seniors that were left at the end,” he told me last week. “Coach Froedden was a mentor, father figure, friend … the man lives every word he speaks. And the young men he’s producing are the types of young men Williamson County strives to produce. The culture he’s built in the program is amazing. 

“He has turned the Centennial basketball program around.”

Before Froedden and Justice’s arrival, the school had four coaches in four years and had a six-year record of 52-87.  In the last four years the squad has posted three winning seasons and got out of the district tournament for the first time in 10 years. More importantly, the team recognizes an accountability that had not been a part of the program.

“It’s not meant for everyone. He not only holds everyone accountable at the highest level I’ve ever seen, but he demands that we as leaders do the same,” Justice said, including weekly academic reviews in and out of season. “He always told us, ‘If a decision has to be made between an individual and the team, the decision has already been made.’”

Froedden’s critics have complained that he prevents athletes from playing other sports and his intensely forced players to quit. However, last year’s team alone included six football players, three baseball players, two golfers and one on the track team. As for players leaving, Justice says it is part of the culture change in the program.

“We’ve had players come and go. It’s intense,” he said. “You have to love it and want to be a part of it at the same level as everyone else or, honestly, you didn’t fit in. Not in a clique type of way, it’s just the culture we built. Even players who had a lot more talent and potential than me didn’t have what it took to be compatible with our culture.”

The senior has also learned a very adult lesson this week – sometimes it is hard to get answers.

“I’ve met with Principal (Chris) Hames along with my some of my teammates and he’s not willing to budge or even give us an explanation,” he said. 

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