Coleridge native celebrates state title with Omaha Westside

OMAHA — Call it a connection to where he came from, but to some degree Brett Froendt’s first-ever state title as a high school head football coach could have been hatched as a boy growing up in Coleridge.

The 1984 graduate of Coleridge High School recently celebrated his Class A championship with Omaha Westside High School when they held on to beat Bellevue West in Lincoln.

After working his way up the ranks of the coaching staff for over two decades, the now head coach collected the big ring as the man calling the shots.

He has been the head coach since 2009 and they also made it to the Class A finals in 2013 and 2019.

“I was very emotional,” Froendt said. “We have been so close so many times. We have tremendous tradition here – making the playoffs 29 of the last 30 years – we just haven’t been able to get to the top. To get here is a tribute to everybody that has helped build the culture.

“We have a strong culture here that’s taken time to build. We have a lot of hard-working kids and coaches so there is a lot of satisfaction for sure.”

Froendt places a premium on spending time with family and he has seen that challenged a bit as the sport as evolved from a three-month season to now a year-round commitment.

“It’s a grind and you don’t do it for the pay,” Froendt said. “It’s pennies on the dollar. The time away from the family and not taking family vacations and the sacrifices the family has made are the hard part.

“But they are overshadowed by the joy of coaching the kids and reaching the goal. It’s just a lot longer process now.”

Froendt went to the University of Nebraska where he got a degree in business and actually worked off that accomplishment for just under two years following graduation.

He ultimately decided he wanted to be a coach so he pursued a teaching degree. He earned that degree in 1993 and started teaching at Westside and has been there ever since.

He began his journey with the program as a freshmen coach for five years until he got promoted to the JV for one year before being brought up in 1999 to be a special teams coach.

Froendt was the program’s defensive coordinator from 2002-2008.

The coach has been blessed with staying in one place from day one.

“I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time coaching – I coached baseball in my early years – so I was gone a lot in the spring and summer as well,” Froendt said. “It is a well-known school – especially for education – and has a solid sports tradition. When I was going to school out here (1990-93), I did some stints of helping out here in the classroom. From day one, I just started working my butt off and kind of made my own path here to ascend.”

Froendt admits that he hadn’t planned to be a head coach, but maybe his days growing up in Northeast Nebraska made it hard to become one after all.

“I came from Coleridge and Hartington and that area, we bred hard workers and I got here and worked my tail off,” Froendt said. “I just learned the ropes and made my path by gaining the coaches’ respect at the time. I was promoted pretty fast. I really appreciate the opportunity I have gotten here.”

Before that trip down his own yellow brick road got him the top job at Westside, he was a sixth grader and a team manager for Coleridge High School’s football team when it won the state title in 1977.

“That kind of planted the seed at that point just how much I loved the sport,” he said. “In 1981, when I was a sophomore, we were state runner up, but won the championship in 1982 in Class C-2.”

They didn’t make the playoffs Froendt’s senior year, but in some weird form of symmetry, those two title game runs for Coleridge came in the exact same two seasons as Westside’s last state titles prior to this year.

“That’s an interesting correlation there,” Froendt said.

Froendt still makes it back to Coleridge when he can to visit with family and friends.

He might have more time to do so in the near future.

“I am taking it one year at a time and I will finish my career here, I don’t know how much future that will be,” he said. “I have other interests as well like competitive golf – I am the golf coach here as well. I like business a lot so there is life after football and teaching so one day I will be exploring that.”

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