Four years ago, Felix Friedt had hardly heard of Whitworth. Four years later, the senior center for the Whitworth basketball team has been named the Male Athlete of the Year by The Whitworthian sports section staff.
Friedt was quick to give the credit to his team.
“This honor is more a reflection of a team accomplishment,” Friedt said. “I couldn’t do it by myself or [without] the people who came before me.”
Friedt’s senior season was the exclamation point to an already stellar Whitworth career, on and off the court. He led the Pirates to their sixth consecutive NCAA Division III tournament and their third Sweet 16 appearance in four years. Following an impressive post-season performance, the 6-foot-8 German native was named Second Team All-West Region and received Third Team All-West Region honors. In addition, he was named First Team All-Northwest Conference.
Behind the scenes, Friedt has worked hard for his accomplishments. Junior point guard and teammate Wade Gebbers recalled Friedt’s dedication in the weight room and his intense work ethic, such as doing curls for an hour straight.
“The reason he does that is because of his determination to be great,” Gebbers said. “He has that determination but follows up on it and you can see that in everything he does, whether it’s playing or in school.”
When Friedt wasn’t in the Fieldhouse or the weight room, he hit the books. The economics and international business double major said despite the plethora of other awards he has received this year, being honored as First Team Academic All-American is his proudest accomplishment.
“He has left one of the best examples of a student athlete that he could leave,” Gebbers said.
First year head basketball coach Matt Logie recalled a particular weekend during conference play when Friedt’s dedication to athletics, academics and his resilience stood out. Whitworth traveled to Newberg, Ore., to play George Fox on a Friday night. Early Saturday morning, Friedt left the team and drove three hours to take a standardized test for graduate school entrance and drove three hours back to Portland, Ore., to arrive about 90 minutes before tip off that night at Lewis & Clark. Friedt was also nursing a sprained ankle. Nevertheless, the anchor for the Bucs put up a double-double that night.
“To be able to will himself through all of that, that was very impressive as a coach,” Logie said of the weekend.
Friedt averaged upwards of 16 points a game for the Bucs, scoring over 500 points on this past season. That number is nearly half of his career 1130, which places him 13th among Whitworth’s all-time leading scorers. Friedt sunk 200 shots from behind the charity stripe this season, maintaining a free-throw shooting percentage of over 80 percent.
Still, Friedt was adamant that the year was not about him. His team came first. He specifically mentioned the drastic changes to the Whitworth coaching personnel and roster coming into the year.
“As a team, I thought it was great how much we came together, facing a coaching change at the beginning of the year,” Friedt said. “Some people questioned if we could repeat what we did the year before because we lost a great deal of players. [This year] we had a great record, we won a conference championship, we went on the road and swept Texas [in the national tournament], all of those will be things I’ll remember forever.”
Logie commended Friedt on his efforts to make the coaching transition as smooth as possible.
“The biggest challenge that we faced together was just the adversity of having to learn a new offense, new defense, and build relationships with new coaches,” Logie said. “That’s a lot to ask of somebody going into their senior year. He handled it about as well as anybody could handle it.”
In his Whitworth Fieldhouse finale, Friedt drained a trey in the opening moments of the game, which was followed by an outburst of elation from the stands. He says it was his favorite moment of the year. “I’ll definitely miss playing in front of the fans, the crowd,” Friedt said. “Comparing it [to] any other place, this was the best place to play at.”
Friedt is an outstanding student and athlete, but even more than that, he is a teammate. The past three years, his team voted him best teammate.
“He might come off as just this seven-foot monster, but he genuinely cares about his teammates,” Gebbers said. “Felix is a big teddy bear.”
After graduation, Friedt plans to get married and attend graduate school at the University of Oregon to earn a Ph.D. in economics.
“I think on a national level [Felix] was about as productive of a basketball player as you could have,” Logie said. “At the same time I think he just displayed exemplary leadership and was a standout student in the classroom. I think he really exemplifies the male student athlete of the year award and what it should stand for.”
Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer
Photographer: Tanner Scholten
Contact Sena Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org.