We recently caught up with former Central Valley High School girls basketball coach Freddie Rehkow, who was named the 2017-18 National High School Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year.
Rehkow stepped away from coaching after last season to spend more time with his family, and he has been helping Scorebook Live shine a light on girls basketball players and coaches across the state of Washington.
Rehkow won two state championships as the head coach at Central Valley, as well as the 2018 Geico National Championship.
What was your most memorable moment as a coach?
My first was winning my first State Championship in 2016 as a Head Coach at Central Valley. It was my first championship as a Head Coach and especially rewarding after losing a heartbreaker in the 2012 state championship game at the buzzer.
My second most memorable moment would be winning the State Championship in 2018 and then capping the season by winning the Geico National Championship, going 83-1 over the last 3 seasons of my career with an amazing group of girls.
What was your biggest challenge as a high school coach?
Trying to find a balance between my personal philosophy and outsider opinions. As a coach I always tried to do the right thing, and though this approach was respected by many, some did not necessarily believe it met their expectations when it came to playing time and personal success.
Another challenge I had was watching parents become overly involved in their kids careers. Many of the players understood their roles and would work hard to give me everything they had, however parents often failed to understand their kids roles within a team and would often times stymie their own kids growth by interfering and demanding more of their kid than the kid was capable of producing.
Who are some of your former athletes that stood out to you?
There are so many athletes that stood out I can’t name them all, but some stood out for many different reasons. I’ve had athletes like Felice Moore (currently an asst. Coach at CV) who I’ve mentored for coaching; Kelsey Matthews and Loree Hill with whom I still just love to see when possible; Lindsay Wing and Angela Wagner from my JV days who are just amazing young ladies and now phenomenal wives and mothers; Victoria Lee-Nauta (probably as much of a daughter to me as any person could be), and probably most recently Madison Hovren (West Point).
Also my 2016 and 2018 State Championship teams (all players), but had a starting 5 of Lacie and Lexie Hull (who were 102-6 over 4 years and now playing at Stanford); Hailey Christopher (Idaho); Camryn Skaife and Mady Simmelink (who are 101-3 over their 4 year career). I could list so many more as every player I’ve coached was special in their own way. I sincerely apologize for not listing more.
What was your recipe for success?
My recipe was a concoction of many different coaches and philosophies I’ve been associated with. My high school head coach Jeff Bell gave me the drive and passion for the game. Dale Poffenroth gave me the hunger and desire to be a state champion. My assistant coach Judy Walters taught me the patience and love for the kids. And when I mixed those all together I came up with what I felt was my personal recipe, and this is what I’ll share with other coaches:
— Love the kids and understand that they are just teenagers trying to be great.
— Hold your program to high standards regardless of what others think.
— Be willing to discipline your players the same regardless of whether they are your best player or the last player off the bench on your freshman team.
— Parents have opinions! But, remember that they are exactly that, just opinions. Do what is right regardless of what others think.
— Small things make a BIG difference. Hold your players accountable, your staff accountable, and yourself accountable. John Wooden said it best: “If you don’t have time to do things right the first time, how will you have time to do them right later?”
— Defense wins championships! This was my philosophy and every player who played for me knew this and expected their teammates to work hard every day.
— Wins should never be more important than the ones who get them for you. Your greatest joy will come from the defeats that led to your success.
— Never place coaching, winning, or anything else ahead of your family. That could end up being your biggest loss in your life and career. No amount of success can compensate for failure in the home!!!!
Who is your personal hero?
My hero is my youngest son Cameron. He is 13 years old and when he was 10 years old he was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-Cell ALL). When we took him into the oncology unit on April 13, 2016 after his blood test revealed he had leukemia and a mass forming in his chest, my wife and I were devastated. We had just won a state championship and my focus was on preparing to try and win another. Cameron experienced many difficult times and at one point we almost lost him as the chemo and other medications were literally driving him to give up. When he had been first diagnosed I made him promise that regardless of how bad things would get, he couldn’t give up.
While on the brink of letting it all go due to the pain and misery that he was in, I remember whispering in his ear that I love him and that he’d promised me he would fight and never give up. Though he truly felt like he couldn’t handle it any longer, he began to fight again and was able to eventually battle back to some sense of comfort. I have never been so proud of anyone the way I was proud of him and his fight. He is my hero because he showed me and everyone associated with him that he is truly a warrior and fighter. Winning the State Championship with him on my bench and by my side in 2018 was one of my favorite moments in my life. He will forever be my HERO!
Rehkow’s coaching background:
-Central Valley (1997-2002) assistant and JV coach
-East Valley – Spokane (2002-2007) Head Coach
-Central Valley (2007-2018) Head Coach