Fryeburg Athletic Director Sue Thurston has known since the middle of the softball season that Fred Apt was planning to retire as coach.
That doesn’t mean Thurston is in any hurry to look for a replacement. She was only half joking when she said, “You can tell Fred I haven’t accepted his resignation.”
Fryeburg Academy went 166-56 in Apt’s 13 seasons as head coach over a 16-year span. In the last seven seasons, the Raiders posted a 130-10 record, winning five straight Western Class B titles from 2008-12 and state championships in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
“I really do hope he reconsiders. I’m not going to post the job until the (end of the year),” Thurston said. “There are a lot of really good people and good coaches out there, but he’s a guy in the spring time, which is the most difficult season to coach with all the distractions, who has the ability to keep his kids focused by doing the right thing and he holds them accountable.”
“Fred can teach chemistry. His teams have it,” Thurston added.
Apt said “it’s just time,” to step down.
“My plans are not to coach anywhere else,” said Apt, 57, a Brownfield resident. “I do love the academy. I love the kids there and am really thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to coach there.”
Apt’s first season as head coach was 1998. The team went 5-9. The next year he was an assistant, then he became head coach again from 2000-02 as the team made modest improvements, going 6-10, 8-8 and 10-6.
Apt also coached his son, Bo, on the boys’ hockey team from 2002-04. Fryeburg won the Class B state title in 2004.
Apt did not coach softball in 2003 and 2004. He wanted to watch his son play baseball and found coaching consecutive seasons difficult to balance with his job as the facility manager at Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H.
His first year back, the Raiders went 1-15. The next year, Hannah Hill came in as a freshman pitcher and the program took off.
With all-Western Maine Conference pitcher Sarah Harriman and a strong supporting cast returning next year, the Raiders figure to continue to be a factor in Class B.
“They’ve always had elite pitching and he’s a competitive coach, as competitive as anyone out there,” Cape Elizabeth Coach Joe Henrikson said.
Hendrickson said Apt also was able to keep the proper perspective. He related how Cape was scheduled to play a 4 p.m. game this season at Fryeburg, but it was switched to 6 p.m. because several Cape juniors were taking mandatory testing. When it was determined those players would be late, the game was further delayed.
“The umpires were there and everyone was ready but Fred didn’t push it. He said we weren’t going to start until everyone was there. I thought that was really sportsmanlike of him,” Henrikson said.
Apt said no single memory stands out but admitted the 2010 team was one of his favorites. It was the season after Hill graduated, and a year before Harriman arrived.
“We lost in the state final with Charlotte Lewis pitching. That was a great season,” Apt said. “I remember that season a lot. The kids overcame a lot and worked so hard. They wanted to prove people wrong and they got a little chip on their shoulder and got to the state final, and that was pretty amazing.”
Apt credited assistant coaches Chris Dutton and Wayne Rivet and JV coach Kris Stevens for much of the program’s success.
“They worked and they put out the hours,” Apt said.
Dutton is a likely candidate to replace Apt.
“I think he still has the fire in him” to continue coaching, Apt said of Dutton.
“Most of all I’m going to miss the kids. I’m going to miss the competition, too, but the interaction with the kids is going to be huge for me. It was like my outlet away from work. You go there and have a great day and relax and teach the kids a game of softball.”
Apt said he and Ruth, his wife of 32 years, are looking forward to spending more time on their 20-foot boat harbored in Saco.
“As I told my (players) when I told them it was time, I learned a lot from them, too,” Apt said.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: