Frey steps down as N. Caro­line’s soc­cer coach

Started pro­gram in 1984, com­piled 261-178-34 record; hopes to re­main at helm of wrestling team

Times-Record - - SPORTS - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE bhaufe@stardem.com

Tim Frey re­mem­bers the dif­fi­culty of start­ing some­thing new.

There was the pa­per­work and in­ter­est meet­ings. There was the mat­ter of get­ting soc­cer balls, goals and uni­forms. There was the task of not only find­ing play­ers, but find­ing enough of them, and keep­ing them as the new kid on the block tak­ing his early lick­ings from the well-es­tab­lished. There was the con­di­tion­ing and prac­tices. And there was in­still­ing dis­ci­pline, de­vel­op­ing a phi­los­o­phy, and striv­ing for con­ti­nu­ity when it came to stan­dards and win­ning.

That’s how hard it was to start the boys’ soc­cer pro­gram at North Caro­line High.

Thirty-three years later, Frey ad­mit­ted none of that com­pared to how hard it was to make the de­ci­sion to step down as the first, and only head soc­cer coach the Bulldogs have ever known.

“It’s been my baby. Melch and I started it,” said Frey, who along with his brother-in-law, Dave Mel­chior, founded North Caro­line’s boys’ soc­cer pro­gram in 1984. “I might have the ti­tle as head coach, but we al­ways did it as we were both head coaches. We both worked to­gether the same. We started it to­gether. I was in the school, so I was the of­fi­cial head coach. But it’s re­ally both of ours.

“Re­ally when Melch stepped out three years ago, it changed the en­tire dy­namic of the coach­ing,” Frey con­tin­ued. “It was quite dif­fer­ent then. But then hav­ing to give it up … In a way I don’t want to. But I know it’s time to give it up. It just is. Cer­tain things have fell into place and it’s just time to let it go.”

Frey, 57, who will re­tire from teach­ing at the end of this school year, said he reached his de­ci­sion two weeks ago while on va­ca­tion with fam­ily, but didn’t make his an­nounce­ment un­til this past Fri­day. He has rec­om­mended to North Caro­line prin­ci­pal Dr. Michael Smith and ath­letic di­rec­tor Matt Spiker, that John Austin, a 10-year soc­cer as­sis­tant, be con­sid­ered as his suc­ces­sor.

While step­ping away from teach­ing and soc­cer, Frey said he would like to re­main as North Caro­line’s head wrestling coach, a de­sire he has ex­pressed to Smith and Spiker.

As head soc­cer coach, Frey com­piled a 261-178-34 record, which in­cluded win­ning six North Bay­side di­vi­sion ti­tles and one re­gional cham­pi­onship in 1990.

“Tim is a won­der­ful coach,” said Skip Ruark, who coached James M. Ben­nett for 24 years be­fore step­ping down two years ago. “I thought his phi­los­o­phy of the game was won­der­ful. He has great knowl­edge of the game and of the play­ers that he had. He used them very wisely. He was al­ways a com­peti­tor and ev­ery game we ever had was a bat­tle.”

Three of those bat­tles came dur­ing a 18-day stretch in 2008. The Clip­pers closed the reg­u­lar sea­son with a 2-1 vic­tory over the Bulldogs be­fore earn­ing a 3-0 shutout for the Bay­side Con­fer­ence ti­tle. Ten days af­ter that ti­tle match, Kevin Yin­gling’s sec­ond-half goal gave Ben­nett a 1-0 vic­tory over North Caro­line in a Class 2A East Re­gion semi­fi­nal that ended the Bulldogs’ sea­son, gave Ruark his 200th ca­reer win and sent the Clip­pers on their way to a state cham­pi­onship.

“Jake Spier­ing still comes up to me and says, ‘Sorry Coach,’” Frey said of that

re­gion semi­fi­nal heart­breaker.

“That was three games that were fought very hard; were very com­pet­i­tive,” Ruark said. “Very hard to beat some­one three times and we were lucky enough to get through. I mean they had a re­ally, re­ally tal­ented team.”

Though Frey never put a time limit on his coach­ing ca­reer, one thing he did want was the op­por­tu­nity to coach his son, Matt, and neph­ews, Ryan and An­drew Mel­chior.

“That was kind of like the ini­tial thing; I wanted to coach soc­cer. When they were born I wanted to coach them,” said Frey, who coached all three in soc­cer and wrestling.

Dur­ing Matt Frey’s four years on the soc­cer team (2001-04), North Caro­line went 48-14-8 and won four straight di­vi­sion ti­tles — a streak that ranks third all­time in North Bay­side his­tory be­hind Eas­ton’s six (198489) and St. Michaels’ five (1979-83), while match­ing St. Michaels’ string of four from 1974-77.

As strong as those Caro­line teams were, they were al­ways de­nied in the con­fer­ence ti­tle game, in­clud­ing losses in 2001 and ‘02 to Stephen De­catur, which reached the state fi­nals in ‘01, then won the state ti­tle a year later. But Caro­line’s 2001 run to the di­vi­sion ti­tle may have never hap­pened had it not been for a nar­row vic­tory over North Dorch­ester.

“I re­mem­ber my ju­nior year we beat North Dorch­ester 1-0 and he (Frey) wasn’t too happy with that per­for­mance,” said Brett Ire­land, a sweeper on Caro­line’s ‘01 and ‘02 teams and now head soc­cer coach at Colonel Richard­son. “I re­mem­ber the next day at prac­tice. All he told us was ‘Bring your flats (ten­nis shoes). Don’t even put on your spikes be­cause we’re go­ing for a nice, long run.’ I’ll put it that way.”

The Bulldogs sud­denly got hot and from that point on started ev­ery prac­tice with a two-mile run.

“We were all su­per­sti­tious,” Ire­land said with a laugh.

Lead­ing those runs was their head coach, who was per­haps as fit as any player on his team, and had an an­swer for any­one try­ing to chal­lenge or pass him.

“His mes­sage was, ‘Fol­low me,’ so you fol­lowed him,” Ire­land said. “Some­one shot past him, then he would sort of veer off and go a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion all of sud­den. So you knew bet­ter to just sort of stay be­hind him and shut up and get your run on and that would be it.”

As well con­di­tioned as his teams were, Frey’s teams were also well pre­pared.

“We worked hard ev­ery day, and he pushed you to work hard,” Ire­land said. “We all be­came bet­ter play­ers at the end of the year than we were at the be­gin­ning. And you didn’t have to worry about be­ing out­coached. I re­mem­ber my se­nior year, us and Eas­ton were the fa­vorites to win the North Bay­side that year. We knew it was go­ing to come down to the game we played them.

“Coach went and scouted Eas­ton and told us be­fore the game even started that if (Eas­ton’s) Kyle Wise gets a PK, he’s go­ing to this side so be ready for it,” Ire­land con­tin­ued. “Sure enough we get in a tight ball­game with them and they get a PK. We knew he was go­ing to that side and cer­tainly enough our keeper (An­drew Markey) made a great save. We won that game be­cause of that, just him go­ing out and pre­par­ing us to do the best we could.”

Frey said the plan was for he and Mel­chior to step away from the pro­gram af­ter Matt Frey’s se­nior year — the Mel­chior broth­ers grad­u­ated be­fore their cousin. But the lure of a young crop of play­ers pro­gress­ing through the ranks kept Caro­line’s head coach in place for another 12 years af­ter his son’s grad­u­a­tion.

“Ev­ery cou­ple of years you would get a big group that comes in that you say, this looks like a group that could do some­thing,” Coach Frey said. “And then you stay around for them and you keep go­ing.”

North Caro­line had such a group last year, as Frey gave six fresh­men am­ple play­ing time, and on oc­ca­sion played all six at the same time dur­ing a 4-7-2 sea­son.

“With the group he has com­ing this year, yeah, ac­tu­ally (I am),” Eas­ton head coach Matt Blue said when asked if he was sur­prised at Frey’s de­ci­sion. “They’ve got two re­turn­ing mid­field­ers with Andy (Adel­hart) and (Paul Sut­ton), and the group of ninth graders that they brought up last year. I think them and Kent Is­land are go­ing to be the two teams that are go­ing to be at the top of the league for sure.”

Frey ad­mit­ted that re­turn­ing cast made his choice to step down all the more dif­fi­cult.

“That was another hard de­ci­sion, know­ing there’s a lot of po­ten­tial there, and get­ting to know those fresh­men pretty well,” he said. “At times all six were on the field, and other than my first two or three years, I’ve never had that many fresh­men on var­sity. It could have been the youngest team I’ve had in 30 years.”

Blue has also had the chance to see Frey from the player’s per­spec­tive, though un­like Ire­land, he went against North Caro­line as a two-year start­ing goalie at Eas­ton.

“I just al­ways know they were pre­pared,” Blue said.

The War­riors’ head coach saw still another side of Frey two years ago, when Eas­ton ral­lied from a three-goal deficit to de­feat the Bulldogs in dou­ble over­time.

“That’s one of the bet­ter games that I’ve been a part of play­ing and coach­ing,” Blue said. “Speak­ing to him af­ter the game, there’s a lot of ways that some­body could have han­dled a loss like that. He was just a class act be­ing able to han­dle that and con­grat­u­lat­ing us. And I’m sure he had a lot of mean­ing­ful words for his play­ers af­ter­wards as well.”

Blue also was im­pressed with the way North Caro­line’s long­time head coach han­dled the se­lec­tion process for post­sea­son honors among North coaches.

“He was the one that would take charge of that whole meeting, and fa­cil­i­tate ev­ery­thing,” Blue said. “That just shows, I think, the re­spect that all of the coaches in the North have for him. He’s kind of like the God­fa­ther, get­ting ev­ery­body or­ga­nized, get­ting ev­ery­body’s feed­back.”

But Frey’s main ob­jec­tive was al­ways get­ting his boys ready to play, no mat­ter who the op­po­nent was, no mat­ter what time of the sea­son. Maybe that’s where he earned the most re­spect from his peers.

“You al­ways know, even as a coach, you bet­ter have your play­ers ready be­cause North Caro­line, they al­ways play hard,” Ire­land said. “That con­tin­ued when I was there, and cer­tainly it still con­tin­ues to­day. So you knew you’re in for a fight; you bet­ter get your boys ready to go be­cause if you don’t step up and play hard it’s go­ing to be a long night for you.”

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

North Caro­line High head soc­cer coach Tim Frey led the Bull­dogs to six North Bay­side ti­tles and one re­gional cham­pi­onship.

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