Pete Fritts '83: Girls Golf Coach of the Year
We sat down with coach Pete Fritts ’83 about being selected as the 2018 Girls Golf Coach of the Year in the State of Georgia by the National Federation of State High School Associations, winning a state title last year, and his history at Woodward.
Woodward Magazine: So you started out as the wrestling coach [Coach Fritts coached the team to a state wrestling title in 2013], and transitioned to golf right around 1998…
Pete Fritts: I never played golf in high school, but I grew up playing golf. I played recreationally in college, so when I got wind that they were starting the program in 1998, I decided I’d put my name in to be the coach. I really didn’t know too much about competitive golf at that time, so the girls and I were learning as we went along, but we were pretty good right off the bat. As the years went by, I started to put my stamp on it and run it almost like I did the wrestling program.
WM: What does that entail?
PF: I have the type of philosophy that you can’t work enough. I mean we’ll practice in rain, the snow, I really don’t care how cold it is. I don’t like to lose time that we could be doing stuff and if we can’t be outside, we’re inside going over situations on the board. I would hate for somebody to graduate from one of my programs and say, “Well, gosh, we could’ve been better if we had done more.”
WM: What do you see as the commonalities between those two sports, golf and wrestling?
PF: Both are individual sports, but at our level you’re on a team working to a common goal, and that’s really a mirror image of life. You can’t get anywhere on your own and if you think you can, you’re sorely mistaken. I often tell both groups, “You know, it’s great if you win an individual tournament title or state championship. But winning a team title is so much more enjoyable because years from now, you get to celebrate with people and tell the stories. As an individual, it’s great, but who are you going to share that with?” The individual stuff, I would trade all of that for team titles any day.
WM: How does that translate to coaching the golf team now?
PF: Nobody does it alone. Even the girls that are not in the starting lineup, we need them. We’ve got nine girls right now, and if we get over the hump this year, it’s because nine girls did their job and helped us a lot, not because four girls did it. It just doesn’t work like that. And when you get the kids buying into your philosophy, if it’s the correct philosophy, they can do things they didn’t think they could do.
WM: Where does earning national coach of the year for girls golf rank in the the list of things that you’ve accomplished?
PF: I didn’t even know. Jose Fernandez came in and said, “Hey, congratulations” and I said, “For what?” and he said, “Well, you’re national coach of the year.” Who knew? It’s nice, and I appreciate whoever nominated me or voted, but at the end of the day it’s not going to affect how I do my job with the girls. If anything else we’re just going to push harder because once you win these titles, you want to win more. It’s harder than people think, regardless of how talented you are, because the mesh has to be there, the chemistry has to be there.
WM: How are things looking for this year?
PF: We won last year but this year’s a whole different animal. We try to do all we can to cover all the bases so that if we are not successful, it’s not because we weren’t prepared. We pride ourselves on working harder than anybody in the state. Our girls have probably had 85 morning workouts, lifting, and running. Nobody in the state—probably nobody in the country—at the high school level does that. But I’m trying to run it like a college program so they understand when they get there. It helps strength, it helps conditioning, but struggling together in the mornings— that’s what it’s all about. So when the hard times come, they know that we have that base that other people don’t have.
WM: What are you most proud of as a coach?
PF: In the last two years, our team grade point average has been well over 4.0. We miss class on Fridays occasionally, as we have to. We have to travel to many different venues. So our girls have to be very organized. What they miss, they study on the bus. They’ve got the computers plugged in and they help each other. As a coach, you can’t ask for more when you see a senior girl helping out a freshman with a paper. They won’t remember, years from now, the scores they shot on the golf course, but they’ll remember those bus rides and helping people out and the fun things they did together. And that’s what I’m trying to create, that chemistry that years from now they’ll tell their kids and they’ll tell their friends, “Well, this is what we did and we were a good team, but we had so much fun together.”