Ken Fredrickson reflects on SYHS career

‘I am most proud of the fact we have more kids playing some kind of sport. Almost 70 percent of the student body is involved in something,’ the retiring athletic director says.

Athletic Director Ken Fredrickson has retired after 19 years at Santa Ynez High School. Photo by Raiza Giorgi

Ken Fredrickson reflects on SYHS career

By Raiza Giorgi

The sports fields at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School won’t be the same after larger-than-life Athletic Director Ken Fredrickson retired at the end of the school year.

Chris Avery, the same man who encouraged him to go into teaching, is taking over in this fall. Fredrickson says he owes a lot to his longtime friend.

“Chris is going to do great things with athletics, and he already has by bringing the department into the new wave of technology by creating a Twitter account to update Pirates fans,” Fredrickson said.

After 19 years at the high school, Fredrickson said he was honored to have led the school in some great accomplishments, as just this year the girls water polo team won the CIF championship for the first time in school history, and the girls softball team took second in CIF.

“No matter what the stats line up as, as far as wins and losses, I am most proud of the fact we have more kids playing some kind of sport. Almost 70 percent of the student body is involved in something,” Fredrickson said.

Fredrickson said his love of sports came from his two older brothers who were always playing, “and I was always on the taller side, so why not use it?” he said.

As a freshman at Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara, Fredrickson was already taller than six feet; he played football, baseball and basketball.

“I loved basketball the most, but I’d say I do have one regret not doing baseball my junior or senior year,” he added.

When he wasn’t on the court or field at school he was playing sports at the Goleta Boys Club. After graduating from high school in 1978 he attended Santa Barbara City College and ended up working at Delco, an aerospace defense company. He worked there until 1997, and the company’s tuition assistance program helped him earn a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills.

He also received a master’s degree in organizational management from Antioch University a few years later.

When Delco was sold, Fredrickson — encouraged by his friend Avery — decided to get his teaching credential and was able to stay home briefly as a “Mr. Mom.”

“My wife is a teacher as well, and it was actually amazing to spend time with my kids and study to be a teacher,” Fredrickson said.

His first job was as a math teacher and coach for Bishop Diego. In the 1998-99 school year he moved to Santa Ynez, becoming a driver’s education teacher and athletic director. He added algebra and computer applications to the list of classes he taught.

After a few years he worked mostly in administration as the athletic director and the staff member who dealt with truancy.

“Anyone can pick what kind of athletic director they want to be, the type that likes to shake hands and do a big show before the games, but I really wanted to just be support for the coaching staff, because it’s really them who are doing the work,” Fredrickson said.

He will miss the interactions with the coaches, players, and the many parents he’s met who were involved with the various booster clubs — whom he calls the unsung heroes of the athletic department — but he is looking forward to his next game, enjoying family and traveling.

Ken and Dawn Fredrickson are enjoying the start of their retirement by vacationing in Europe with family and friends.

Fredrickson is overseas this month, visiting family and spending time with friends as he travels to several countries. He and his wife Dawn aren’t planning to move anywhere, though, as they both have relatives close by who need their help.

“I think I accomplished my goal of playing hard, and for people to look at our athletic department and say we are fair and accommodating to our visitors. I wish Chris the best moving forward and will always cheer for the Pirates,” Fredrickson said.