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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bob Frederick tribute: John Burch

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I appreciate your tribute articles on Bob Frederick and would like to offer my thoughts in response. I had a unique relationship with Bob in that I played basketball for him at Coffeyville Community college in 1970 and was his assistant coach at Lawrence High School in 1977-79 before I was the girls coach there for one season.

Bob was instrumental in my early decision making as a young adult. Could a person ask for a better role model? Most of what I learned in basketball came from Bob but more important is that he taught me how to conduct myself as a coach and person. It has served me well as I've coached multiple sports in first Chicago and then New York where I currently reside.

Bob gave me sage advice when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. He said, “Do what you love and you will be doing the right thing.”

Now that isn't exactly original advice but coming from someone like Bob, it was trustworthy advice and has served me well. I usually spoke with Bob once or twice a year (last time being New Year's Day) and it always felt familiar even though many years had passed. We would recall the days we spent in similar endeavors, have a few laughs, and talk KU sports, which nobody loved more dearly.

The things he taught me about basketball were numerous including things as mundane as printing your practice schedule legibly to more complex things like how to give your team the best chance to win by controlling tempo. He taught me to be completely prepared before a practice or a game and to foster positive relationships with all your players not just your best. His worst day of the season was always having to make final cuts. He dreaded it yet made it a point to talk to each player he cut individually to reassure them and help maintain their self-esteem. I could go on and on but, suffice it to say, I tried to carry out his principles (not nearly as well as he did) throughout my coaching career. Having said that, the most important lesson I learned from Bob was how to conduct myself in a respectful, professional, and positive manner in all aspects of my life (again, not as well as he) but I have tried and am so thankful to him for the arbitrary lessons as he never intended his life's behavior to be copied, it just was.

I will close by simply paraphrasing a quote I read from Roy Williams so that it applies to me — Bob was the best MAN I've ever met. My heart goes out to Margey and the boys as well as the entire KU community.

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