Freddie Rehkow thought he was done – so much so he had thrown away most of his playbooks. He’s done everything a high school basketball coach can do.
League titles? Many. State titles? Two in three years. National championship and national coach of the year? Check and check. Helped dozens of players reach the college ranks? Absolutely.
Rehkow won 209 games in 11 years with the girls teams at Central Valley with two undefeated state titles in 2016 and ’18. His last three years at CV he went 83-1, including a win at the GEICO Nationals in New York in 2018.
Now he’ll get a chance to take a boys team to the top at Ridgeline, the new Central Valley School District high school which opens in the fall.
He left the game at the top after the 2018 titles in order to spend more time at home with son Cameron, who was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2016 when he was 11. Cameron’s been in remission for two years and will be a sophomore at Ridgeline in the fall.
“It’s an opportunity to do what I love but also still spend the time with him, which one of the main things was to be in his life, since all of his brothers are out of the house,” Rehkow said.
“It’s been three years,” Rehkow said of his time away. “When I originally sat down the intent was to be done, and I was pretty adamant about sticking to that.”
Now that his family situation is stable, the allure of building Ridgeline’s boys basketball program from the ground up was too enticing to pass up.
“With this new opportunity, and a chance to work with our new administration, I’m excited for this new challenge,” he said. “I’ve always been in a position to rebuild and this will be an opportunity to actually build. Once we got to a point where Cameron was healthy, and my wife was back to work full time and you know what, you get to be a pretty bored guy.”
Rehkow’s boredom will eventually cause migraines across the Greater Spokane League.
“I look at this as an opportunity to really coach every one of these young men as if they were my kids, my boys, and hopefully teach them how to be respectful and just absolutely amazing young men like I feel like my boys are,” he said.
On top of his son’s illness, Rehkow has had some health challenges the past several years, including hip replacement and knee surgery. The mental anguish has taken its toll.
“Anybody that’s had to go through something like that as a family understands it,” he said. “You can put a smile on your face every day, but doesn’t mean you’re happy.
“I feel like I’m in a good place now and I’m just excited to have a new opportunity. I wanted to do boys basketball to give myself a different challenge. I love girls basketball, and I’ll always be a huge advocate for it, but this is about personal challenge for me.”
Building a culture
David Myers didn’t hide the fact he wanted the Ridgeline football coaching job. He’s itching to get started.
“This is my second season not coaching football, and I am absolutely ready to get back out there,” Myers said. “It’s been a long time coming. I think it was not a secret, even when I came to CV, that it was something I was very interested in.”
Myers spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Central Valley. He was head coach at Interlake in Bellevue for four years and an assistant at Garfield, Foster and Lincoln high schools on the West Side.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, open a brand new school as a head coach,” he said. “I feel really fortunate to have this opportunity at Ridgeline.”
Myers knows competing in the 4A/3A GSL without seniors his first season will present a challenge.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but for me, starting with a blank canvas and getting the opportunity to build culture from Day 1, tie that into a brand new facility and other great teachers and staff, and build a program that the school and community can be proud of – even though we’re going to be young, we’re going to compete right off the bat,” he said.
The way eastern Spokane County and Liberty Lake are growing, Myers thinks the program will catch up fast.
“Ridgeline is going to be one of those places that you can grow things really quickly,” he said. “We’ll take some lumps, but it won’t be that long before we’re competitive.”
He wants the football program to be a leading conduit for all students to participate, regardless of their varied interests.
“Football has such an outsized role, so it’s really important for us to take that responsibility seriously,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to using it as a platform to create great school culture for everyone. We want our kids to have a great experience, no matter what they do.”
A fresh start
For boys cross country coach Kieran Mahoney, it’s a new beginning in many more ways than one. The longtime CV coach has spent the better part of the past four years recovering from emotional and physical pain.
“This is big for me,” he said. “There’s a lot of personal stuff that I’ve gone through. This is a big, big opportunity to start fresh.”
Mahoney won a State 4A title and coach of the year in 2012 with the Bears and had his team in great position again in 2017. But on Oct. 2 of that year, just days before CV clinched its first GSL title, Patricia Mahoney, Kieran’s mother, was killed in a car crash by an impaired driver.
“I was just in a fog, of course, with my mom’s death.” Mahoney said.
The Bears finished second at state later that year – by a single point – to Lewis and Clark after edging the Tigers for the GSL title.
During spring 2018, Mahoney resigned at CV and took a leave of absence. Ridgeline will be his first coaching position since then.
Mahoney took up road cycling as a “coping mechanism” but was involved in a bicycle accident in June and broke his pelvis, which laid him up for 10 weeks in bed. He still requires physical therapy.
“I lost my mom. I lost my team. I lost coaching. And lost my bike,” he said. “But I’m a fighter.
“I can’t wait to get those boys running and loving cross country and being a part of the great Spokane tradition we’ve always had. So this is very personal for me.”
Not being “a local,” Brice Gretch isn’t caught up in the “Vision Quest” history of the region.
As a high school wrestler, he won two state titles and two runners-up in Montana, then wrestled and coached in Iowa for several years before taking the head coaching spot with Ridgeline.
”I’ve seen the heartland of wrestling,” he said. “Coming into Spokane as an outsider, it was all new to me.”
He doesn’t feel that the lack of seniors in his first year will be a problem.
”It’s a really big opportunity for any of our wrestlers to step up and be a leader,” he said. “It’s often assumed the upperclassmen are going to be the leaders, and here anyone can be.”
Gretch was proud that the program will be designed to caters to girls wrestlers as well as boys from the start.
”It’s impossible that other programs don’t feel like they’re a boys program with a few girls around,” he said. “I’m excited from Day 1 we’re looking to have a competitive girls team.”
Jeramie Maupin has taught at CV since 2014 and has been the baseball coach the past four years. But since his son will be a student at Ridgeline, the opportunity to move to the new school was too good to pass up.
”That was the deciding factor,” he said. “It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that very few get.”
The brand new facilities are something he’s looking forward to.
”With baseball, you do most of your own field work,” he explained. “Instead of year-after-year trying to get the field back into halfway decent playing shape, starting with a new field and maintaining that will be pretty nice.”
Maupin thinks his program will catch up quickly within the GSL.
”I think we’ll be able to compete sooner rather than later,” he said. “Football is such a physical sport when you’re dealing with seniors and that age difference and maturity and size difference. I think baseball the difference isn’t as glaring.
”But there will be growing pains and we’ll take some lumps.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.