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Coach’s impact echoes at Gretna game

Wes+Frost%2C+12th%2C+shoots+a+jumpshot+in+warmups.
Avery Brasfield
Wes Frost, 12th, shoots a jumpshot in warmups.

The doors of the school were open early the day of the boys basketball matchup between Gretna and Papio South. The team had scheduled a film session to prepare for the game later that night.   

The first player to arrive was Gretna transfer Wes Frost, who became a Titan this year. Frost was eager to face off against his former Dragon teammates. He also expected to see his former coach, Brad Feeken.

“I was really looking forward to playing at Gretna the whole year actually,” Frost said. “I knew it was gonna be a really fun game, and I was just there to show everybody what they’re kind of missing out on.”

Teams participating in the Metro Holiday Tournament had arranged to show their support for Feeken, who had announced that he was fighting cancer not long before Frost made his transfer.  

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That morning, something felt different for Frost.

He first heard the news from Titan Coach Joel Hueser.

“Because I was there early, he pulled me aside and told me – I didn’t know if it was true or not,” Frost said. “I called my mom right when he told me, and she also didn’t know. She was also in shock.”

Later that day, Dec. 30, Frost received an email from Gretna School District confirming: Coach Brad Feeken, age 48, died at 4:30 a.m. as a result of neuroendocrine cancer.

“It hit me hard losing someone that close to me,” Frost said, “because I knew him for seven years, and he was my teacher, and coached both my brothers.”

Frost grew up under the leadership of Feeken. The Gretna coach was one of his middle school teachers at Aspen Creek. That was where Feeken began coaching Frost in basketball. But for Frost, Feeken had a bigger impact on him than basketball.

“I learned from him and Gretna about struggle and toughness – he helped me develop it from when I was a freshman on the high school team to now,” Frost said. “He also believed in the luck of $2 bills and gave two of them to me. I still have them both up in my car, along with a picture his son John gave me that I touch before every game.”

Despite the weight of the news, Frost and the Titans showed up to compete hard.

“My goals didn’t change,” Frost said. “If anything, I wanted to be more aggressive. The one thing that [Hueser] said in our team meeting is that … he really had respect for Feeken … [and] he would have wanted us to try our hardest and not let up at all. We were gonna let everything out that night.”

The game between the Titans and Dragons was to decide who would advance to the Metro Holiday Tournament semifinals. 

For Frost, the main takeaway of the night was the unity on the court.

“Everybody was there for him, the game wasn’t about each other.”

Frost recalled the final moments, when Gretna’s Landon Pokorski, a friend and fellow teammate of Frost’s, drove down the court to sink a 49-47 victory for the Dragons. 

“I think we had like 10 seconds left, and we had the ball actually. And [Titan teammate] Reece [Kircher] drove down, and the ref made a 50-50 call for a charge. And so they got the possession,” Frost said. “I was on help side, and I just see Landon driving down – he was on the right side of the court – and I think he did an in-out or something and went by our player, and then did his signature float,” Frost said.

“Everything was kind of in slow motion at that time. And then I didn’t actually see the ball go in. I just saw and heard the crowd.”

After the game, Frost left the court with a mix of emotions. 

“I was in shock. It just seemed like everything kind of played out, like when the buzzer ended. But I mean, to be honest, I obviously didn’t want to lose the game but … just the way it happened, it’s kind of cool for them and Feeken that night. … I think he was watching down and smiling.” 

Wes Frost, 12th, dunks in warmups. (Avery Brasfield)
Wes Frost, 12th, catches his breath between plays. (Avery Brasfield)
Montae Brown, 10th, Jacob Young, 12th, wait in line during warmups. (Avery Brasfield)

   

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About the Contributors
Parker Hylok
Parker Hylok, Staff Reporter
Hello! I am Parker Hylok. This is my first year on staff, and I am senior. I have been on the Varsity Soccer team since Freshman year. If I am not in school, you are likely to see me playing soccer, fishing, lifting, or taking a nap. I am super excited to be a part of journalism.
Avery Brasfield
Avery Brasfield, Photographer
I feel like my biggest strength as a photographer is passion. I am constantly wanting to learn more and have more experience. I love to spend my time taking photos. I love the feeling of going home and seeing what I captured. Seeing my growth makes me want to strive harder to be better every day. I love being on the sidelines taking everything in. I also love to capture people that don't normally get the recognition they deserve. Showing people someone's personality and who they really are is my favorite.
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