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Isaac Fruechte has taken coaching, life lessons to Winona State

Former Caledonia star football player Isaac Fruechte is the first-year offensive coordinator at Winona State University. Fruechte is relishing the opportunity and the chance to be closer to home.

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Isaac Fruechte.
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Isaac Fruechte was announced as the new offensive coordinator for the Winona State University football team in January. He was a star wide receiver at Caledonia, then Rochester Community and Technical College and the University of Minnesota, before short NFL stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. He was Northern State University’s offensive coordinator last year.

Fruechte, 32, has also been an assistant football coach at Northern Iowa and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Fruechte is the son of Carl Fruechte, the longtime and hugely successful football coach at Caledonia.

Post Bulletin: How does it feel being so close to home?

Fruechte: It feels really good. It was a family decision to come here, especially with me taking a job within the same (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) that I was just in and all the success we had at Northern State. It’s all about family and taking care of my wife and children. For us, it was a no-brainer, with my wife from Rushford and my family from Caledonia. Grandpas and grandmas can come over anytime now. Family was the reason for the move, and I feel super thankful about it and lucky to be back.

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What makes a good offensive coordinator?

Fruechte: I think you can take that a step further, and ask what makes a good coach in general. It’s to have the ability to relate to and help players, and then to be able to adapt. It’s about admitting that sometimes you’re wrong and being open to new ideas in order to better the players. It’s about being open to suggestions and to help give players ownership of the program. It’s super important to give them ownership so they know how important they are. We want to be trusted as coaches and mentors of young people.

How much has your dad, Carl Fruechte, helped shape you?

Fruechte: He’s my father, so he has a lot of influence on me. But I am 32 years old now, married and have moved on from being parented every single day, every waking moment. But one thing that I like and that he has always told me is that parenting never stops. It is kind of like being a coach, because coaching never stops. We are an extension of those (players’) parents. They trust us to do what is best for their kids, and that is something that I learned from my dad. It’s that you have to be there for the people who you want to help and to help them achieve great things. It takes time and effort. My dad always taught us as kids that if you want to do something, you’d better do it all the way and make sure that you’re doing right by people.

As an offensive coordinator, have you patterned your offense after any particular coach’s system?

Fruechte: We are our own little entity, with lots of variations. You end up stealing ways of doing things from other coaches you’ve been around. You remember stuff and write it down, log it so that when you get an opportunity to get a coordinator’s job, you have some ideas of what you want to do. But this next year at Winona State, we’ll likely look similar to what we did the last two years at Northern State (where Fruechte was offensive coordinator). But you have to do what your players do best and what the kids can handle. If you’re too stubborn, you’re not going to have success. That is part of being a good coach, understanding what your team does best.

After getting a look at Winona State’s offensive talent the last three months, what do its players do best?

Fruechte: The first place to start is that we have a tremendous group of running backs. It is going to be interesting to find ways to get them all the football, be it in the run or pass game. The competition among our running backs is going to be extremely high.

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Among those running backs is redshirt sophomore Noah Carlson, a former star at Rushford-Peterson. How is he looking?

Fruechte: He looks good and has been putting on some good weight (6-feet-2, 200 pounds). He is a big dude who can run. He is one of those guys who we’re going to have to figure out ways to get him the ball. He’s got a tremendous amount of God-given talent and athleticism. He’s going to have a great year.

What have been your impressions of Winona State first-year head coach Brian Bergstrom, who was a former defensive coordinator at Division I South Dakota State University.

Fruechte: I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a tremendous man who is very motivated, organized and smart. He instills a lot of great teaching moments for players and our staff. I am super thankful to have him and to be able to work with him. He does this for the right reasons.

How tough is it to go from being a player to a coach? Is there a part of you that still wishes you were on the field, running around?

Fruechte: Yes, every day I have those thoughts. I wish I could still be running around out there, catching passes and making tackles. But coaching is a great profession to be in. I have an awesome opportunity here to relate to players because of my past experiences. They see how much you care and how much you want them to be successful. But yeah, there are definitely still times that I wish I was out there playing.

Your cousin, Owen King — another former star Caledonia athlete — is also on the Winona State campus, as a student and basketball player there.  How often do you guys run into each other?

Fruechte: Probably once a week. He’s doing a little bit different schedule with basketball stuff and school, but it’s been really cool to have him here and to be involved in his life. I’m looking forward to watching him play this winter. I see him working out in the gym all the time. I’ll pop in there and we’ll talk. It’s been great.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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