BELTON — The annual Pigskin Preview banquet to benefit the Heart of Texas South Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry Sunday night was less about the upcoming football season than it was the kind of impact coaches can make in the lives of their players.
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football coach Pete Fredenburg headlined the evening event at UMHB’s Mayborn Arena in a one-on-one interview format with Waco television personality Dan Ingham. Fredenburg recalled what led him to get into the coaching profession and the effect it can have.
“Since eighth grade I’ve viewed coaching as a calling,” said Fredenburg, who has been the only head football coach in the 16-year history of the UMHB program. “You spend so much time away from family. There are highs and lows and you have to be devoted to it.”
The season-ending loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Division III semifinals last season was a bitter pill for Fredenburg and the Crusaders to swallow.
“I was beating myself up over that,” he recalled. “I came home and my wife (Karen) put things in perspective. She told me that loss was nothing compared to the lives we’re touching.”
Fredenburg said he was influenced greatly by three coaches during his career: Aubrey Roberts, his high school coach at Clifton, Jim Streety, the veteran coach whose staff he served on at New Braunfels, and Grant Teaff, with whom he was an assistant at Baylor.
“Teaff was always the same no matter what was going on,” Fredenburg said. “He was adamant that we start early and go home early so we could spend time with our families. I learned that from him and have followed suit.”
Fredenburg quoted Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:13 which speaks of faith, hope and love, but the greatest being love.
“When a coach starts talking about love to his players it sounds kind of weird,” he said. “But that’s the strongest bond you can have.”
Fredenburg said he didn’t initially expect to stay at UMHB more than a couple of years, but he became so enamored with the Division III level of players that he never left Belton. He appreciates the fact that his teams are playing for the love of the game. He said the three main principles of his team are to trust, commit and care.
“I love spending time with a group who play the game because they love it,” he said. “The only difference between the guys at a Division I school and here is the scholarships. The time commitment is about the same. We recruit like we did in Division I.”
The most emotionally charged presentation of the night came from Kim Ransleben, wife of veteran Temple assistant coach Wayne Ransleben. She spoke from the perspective of a coach’s wife.
“I’ve never seen anyone have an impact on young men the way you coaches do,” she told the audience made up largely of area coaches.
Ransleben revealed the difficulty of being a coach’s wife with a young family while her coaching husband was away from home the vast majority of the time for months during football season. It took years for her to realize how coaches were shaping the lives of young men for good or bad. That didn’t make it any easier, but the perspective became clearer.
“This ministry is our ministry,” she said. “Christ left His family to go for you and me. Coaches recreate it in a little microbe. It’s not a game for us. It’s life in Christ for us.”
Patrons also heard from Central Texas Christian School student Madeleine Ruth Norman about FCA camps and from Will Sears from the FCA leadership board regarding the vision of the ministry.