Fortunately for the Wheaton Academy boys basketball program, the high school/college coaching carousel can be a two-way street.
After the Warriors lost their accomplished coach, Paul Ferguson, to become an assistant coach at Wheaton College, the school announced Tuesday it has lured Lipscomb University men’s basketball assistant coach Pete Froedden as Ferguson’s replacement.
Froedden took the assistant coaching position at Division-I Lipscomb, his alma mater, where he has coached for the past five seasons, after previously coaching 14 years in the high school ranks in Tennessee.
“I just thought in order not to have regrets I needed to try [college coaching], something I hadn’t done, and I had an opportunity to do it, and so I did it for the last five years, but in the past two or three years, I figured out fairly quickly that I missed being a head coach, and I missed having an opportunity to have a vision for a program and set that direction,” Froedden said.
Froedden said Wheaton Academy athletic director Andrew Tink reached out to him to discuss the Warriors’ opening.
“We cast a wide net,” Tink said. “We contacted college coaches across the country, particularly targeting programs that we’re familiar with and programs that are Christian schools, so Pete was one of those college coaches at a Christian school that I reached out to.”
On a personal level, the timing was right for Froedden to make a major change. One of his three children, daughter Kiana, just graduated from high school in Tennessee, and Froedden also was looking for an established, quality program where he could coach his son, Christian, for his junior and senior seasons. Plus, former Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson resigned his post in April.
“I think the whole gamut of how I felt about the college scene compared to being a head coach at high school and Christian and Kiana, kind of all of it all wrapped up into one, I thought it was an ideal time for my family to be able to make the move,” Froedden said.
Christian Froedden will be a 6-foot-3 junior wing player who already has two seasons of varsity basketball under his belt. He should fit in nicely with a formidable core of Wheaton Academy returnees that is expected to also include Division I post prospect Gordon Behr and state 3-point shooting champion Josh Ruggles.
“He’s got to get stronger, got to get a little tougher but he has a real good skill set, and he has a chance to be a nice player,” Froedden said of his son.
Lipscomb is located in Nashville, and Tennessee has been home base for Froedden well beyond his playing days at Lipscomb (1987-1991). He plans to relocate northward this week and start laying groundwork for the Warriors’ summer program, but it will be a few months before he needs to steel himself for his first Chicago winter.
“It’s probably good that I visited a week and a half, two weeks ago, when the weather was like 82 [rather than] when it’s below 2,” Froedden said. “I don’t have any reservations about that kind of stuff. I knew this was going to be the year I was going to go back into high school.
“I had some other opportunities, actually had three
other opportunities I was looking at when [Wheaton Academy] and I began to talk. I knew I was going to be a head coach, it was just a matter of where.”
Coming soon: Wheaton Academy also has a football coaching job to fill in the aftermath of former coach T.J. Ragan’s departure after one season.
Tink said an announcement on the football vacancy could be coming within the next week.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.