By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Longtime Armada tennis coach David Fredette has been named one of 23 National Coaches of the Year for 2018-19 by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS) Coaches Association.
Fredette was selected first at the state level and then from among the eight sections that make up the NFHS – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Fredette’s coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.
David Fredette began Armada’s tennis program in 1966 and coached the boys team through the 2018 season. He led more than half his teams over the years to the MHSAA Finals, and 17 to top-10 finishes at the championship meet – including four straight from 2009-12. He also was a major contributor during the early days of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association, and began serving on its board in 1982. Four times he was selected MHSTeCA state Coach of the Year: in Class C-D in 1982, Class B in 1992, and as one of two selections in Division 4 in both 1998 and 2018. Fredette was inducted into the MHSTeCA Hall of Fame in 1988. Armada’s tennis courts are named for him.
Fredette played tennis at Dowagiac High School and then Benton Harbor Community College. He also coached basketball and football during his time at Armada.
“Athletics give students a chance to become student-athletes, which means athletics teach athletes discipline, a strong work ethic, and cooperation with others. Athletics teach athletes how to not only compete, but how to handle both winning and losing. … I know that students who play sports upon graduation are more prepared to face the challenges that life presents them. While I always expected my players to work hard, I wanted my athletes to enjoy the experiences on and off the courts. My former players tell me how much they enjoyed competing, but also how much fun they had on the trips we went on together, whether it was to play top competition across the state of Michigan or on the Florida trips I took my boys teams on over Easter vacation from 1989 through 2001 to practice and bond as a team. Athletes learn how to compete, but they also gain friendships that last a lifetime, if only in their memories.”
Four more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Brighton girls swimming & diving coach Jason Black led the Bulldogs to a Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals runner-up finish in Fall 2018, its best placing in program history. Dexter boys swimming & diving coach Michael McHugh was selected for the second-straight year as a Section 4 winner after leading his team to its fourth-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship last winter. Battle Creek St. Philip volleyball coach Vicky Groat at one point guided the Tigers to nine Class D championships in 10 seasons from 2005-14 and is the sixth-winningest coach in MHSAA volleyball history with a record of 1,154-262-93. Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart co-coach Judy Hehs helped lead that program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 4 championship this past fall, its sixth title in eight seasons, in her final tournament before retirement. She previously was named NFHS Coaches Association National Coach of the Year for girls tennis in 2016.
The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982. Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year for which they receive their award.