Central Valley girls basketball coach Freddie Rehkow resigned from the position on Tuesday morning after 21 years, citing the desire to concentrate on the needs of his family.
“My boys need me, my wife needs me,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Rehkow was named National High School Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) on April 16.
The youngest of Rehkow’s four sons, Cameron, was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2016 at the age of 11. Cameron is back to school full time, according to Rehkow, but has up to two more years of maintenance in which he’ll receive chemotherapy and other treatments.
Central Valley hosted a holiday basketball tournament in Cam’s name this season to benefit organizations that hit close to home for Rehkow – the Anna Schindler Foundation, which helps fight rare childhood cancer, and Central Valley InvestED, which helps students in need at Central Valley.
“The last two years have been really rough,” he admitted. “Folks know what’s going on but they don’t see behind the scenes.”
Rehkow and his family recently went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for a week for Cam’s Make-A-Wish trip, and Rehkow said the experience helped him make the decision.
“Sometimes as a dad you say ‘I need them.’ I need to be here,” he said.
“They deserve me and I definitely need them.”
Rehkow said he had no intention of stepping down right after the conclusion of the season and that basketball didn’t factor into his decision, saying he believes he could take next year’s team and make a run at state, but also said that, “I don’t know if I can give them 100 percent again.”
“It’s the right choice. It’s a hard choice. But I am comfortable with the decision I made,” he said.
He told his team on Tuesday, saying that he would “still be in the stands, cheering and yelling for them.”
While he didn’t rule out a return to coaching in the future, Rehkow said he has no plans for it, and that his duties as father and husband outweigh any other options right now.
Rehkow also said he needs a second hip surgery following a microfracture procedure two years ago, and that the physical pain associated with the injury added to his decision-making process.
Rehkow and Central Valley capped off a perfect 29-0 season by beating Hamilton Heights Christian from Tennessee for the GEICO High School Nationals championship, which landed the Bears at No. 4 in the nation in the USA TODAY Super 25 national rankings.
“I’m just so appreciative of all of the players, our staff and my family. Without all of their contributions, none of this would have been possible,” Rehkow said in April after receiving the national coach of the year award.