With his positive attitude, first-year head coach Matt Fritsche is bringing new energy to Hillsdale College women’s basketball, players say.
Fritsche will be the third coach in four years for the Chargers. He said he hopes to bring an attitude of improvement and care between players and coaches.
“He makes people more confident as players,” senior guard Maddy Reed said. “When he talks about what we need to improve, he says it in a positive way.”
Prior to taking the head coaching job at Hillsdale, Fritsche was an assistant at Creighton University and Midland University, as well as head coach at Bellevue West High School in Nebraska.
During his tenure at Creighton, the team made the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Tournament each of his four years there.
“At Creighton we didn’t lose a transfer for 11 years. I got to experience a really strong culture where the kids and coaches really cared about each other and they loved the school,” Fritsche said. “That’s what this place felt like.”
Following four seasons at Creighton, Fritsche realized he wanted to transition from Division I to Division II.
“I wanted to be a more present father, and at the Division I level, I was gone so much. I also wanted to be a head coach and be in charge of my team.”
After interviewing at Hillsdale, Fritsche was immediately drawn to the program.
“I came to Hillsdale not knowing if I wanted to work here and left here praying I would get the job,” Fritsche said.
At Hillsdale, Fritsche hopes to “embrace the process of improving our culture and assuring good experiences for one another.”
The players have responded positively to Fritsche’s style of coaching.
“We can all tell he is genuine and has a sincere heart,” Reed said. “He is first and foremost worried about how we are as people and got to know us as people and not just players.”
Senior forward Jessica De Gree agreed: “He comes to every one of our 6:30 a.m. lifts, which he doesn’t have to do, to cheer us on.”
Although they have a new coach, the players don’t want this year to be considered a transition year.
“Many people use a transition year as an excuse, but for the seniors, this is our third coach. Every year has been a transition year,” De Gree said.
The players, however, have already noticed a change between this season and last.
“We can already see that people on the team are generally happier. We look forward to practice,” Reed said. “At practice with him we definitely get conditioning in, but it is not emotionally draining.”
Fritsche is father of two children, Kellen, age 6, and Kinley, age 3.
“He is such a family guy,” De Gree said. “Every day he drives his kids to school and says it is his favorite part of his day.”
Fritsche’s kids have also taken to the team.
“They love my team. Kellen is pretty sure he is going to marry (junior) Brittany Gray,” Fritsche said.
With their new team culture and sense of positivity, the team said it is hopeful for a successful year.