Fredericks is only thinking about Maple Leafs season and not end of coaching run.
It’s the end of an era.
Retiring at the end of the school year, this will be Don Fredericks’ final season at the helm of the Geneseo boys’ cross country program.
Fredericks has been coaching the boys’ cross country team in some capacity for 30 years.
Fredericks compared his emotions to that of his athletes starting their senior seasons.
“I have mixed emotions about it,” Fredericks said. “Some individuals when that point in their life comes, they are doing backflips, they are so excited. Some people are crossing numbers off calendars and can’t wait for that last day.
“I’m exactly the opposite, I love what I do. People know that. You can’t fake that. It’s not just the coaching, but the teaching — all of it.”
Fredericks talked about how it’s not just about winning but the journey of giving athletes the tools to stick with running for their long-term health.
Over the summer, Fredericks believes the Maple Leafs have put in one of the best offseasons he can remember in preparation for this year.
With 12 seniors graduated off of last season’s team, Fredericks feels the fun part of this season will be finding out just how the varsity team takes shape.
Looking to reload this season, Fredericks was proud of the mileage the kids have put in, and he thinks the raw talent can be found among a roster with several diamonds in the rough.
Leading the pack will be senior runner Blake Duncan.
Last season, he showed he was capable of pacing the Maple Leafs with a 24th-place finish in a loaded Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Meet.
At regionals, Duncan helped the Leafs surprise the field by leading Geneseo to a third-place team finish with an individual sixth-place finish.
Duncan will be aided by two other senior captains in Christian Booth and Adam Wells.
Another varsity returner will be Neo Colter who cracked Geneseo’s varsity lineup as a freshman last season.
Entering his sophomore year, Colter will be counted on after putting in a strong summer of work.
Bringing some varsity experience to the team will be junior Andrew Rizzo.
Last season, the Maple Leafs’ Rizzo was seventh in the sophomore race at the Geneseo Invitational.
Other Geneseo returners competing for a chance at a spot in the varsity lineup will be Colby Rapp, Juan Mejias-Dansbach and Nathan Carroll.
A newcomer, Raymond Venneberg has impressed Fredericks after the senior strung together a solid seven-minute pace during the Bix 7.
The Maple Leafs will get a boost with the addition of freshmen Rafe Morrison and Ricky Chavez.
The duo raced to Heartland Conference honors at Geneseo Middle School, and Morrison nabbed All-State recognition with a 24th-place finish.
Making the jump from the middle school courses to the longer high school courses will be a challenge, but Fredericks is excited to see what they can bring to the team.
“There’s some talent there,” Fredericks said. “It’s going to be fun to see what these guys can do. Rafe was All-State, so that’s pretty awesome. Anytime you can add an athlete of that caliber into your program it’s a special moment.”
Another freshman, William Plumley caught Fredericks’s attention by getting his mile time down to 5:06 in the 1600-meter run at the IESA sectional meet.
After solid freshmen campaigns, Fredericks thinks that Ky Ariano and Spencer Lindstrom are two others who can challenge for spots in the top seven after putting in a nice summer of work.
2017 Maple Leafs' roster
Coach: Don Fredericks. Assistants: Tessie Fredericks and Philip Moe. Managers: Lydia Mejias-Dansbach and Amelia Seys.
2017 Maple Leafs' schedule
Aug. 22 Sterling Grass Relays Hoover Park 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 29 Sycamore Invite Afton Forest Preserve DeKalb 4:45 p.m.
Sept. 2 Galesburg Invite Lake Storey Park 9 a.m.
Sept. 9 Peoria Woodruff Invite Detweiller Park 11 a.m.
Sept. 16 Geneseo Invite Richmond Hill 9 a.m.
Sept. 23 Sterling Rock River Run Hoover Park 9 a.m.
Oct. 7 Metamora Invite Black Partridge Park 9:30 a.m.
Oct. 14 NIB 12 Meet hosted by Kaneland 10 a.m.
Oct. 17 Sterling Invite JV/frosh Hoover Park 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 IHSA Regional TBA TBA
Oct. 28 IHSA Sectional TBA TBA
Nov. 4 IHSA State TBA TBA