Moments with Coach Fred

Some memories from time with a remarkable man. Miss you already, pal.

“WHY didn’t you do the chase-me-charlie?!” A coaching legend is yelling at sixteen-year-old me for not taking part in a rowing training session on the Credit River. For all I knew, Fred Loek worked with national-calibre athletes, and took no notice of awkward 130-pound teenage boys who had shown zero speed yet. Wrong.

Years later, on the Credit, I’m the starter as Fred lines up to race his single 200m against his son Jonathan – an accomplished sculler. Papa Loek smirks and takes an egregious flying false start which I don’t bother calling back. I know Fred loves breaking rules.

“WHY would you DO THAT?!” Fred is clad in lycra, covered in chocolate milk, and pissed off. We’re on a cycling ride and one guy rolls over a container lying randomly on a country road. The thing explodes into Fred’s path. The hapless fellow who caused the eruption bears the full brunt of Fritsie fury all the way back to Port Credit.

In the grandstand, a Royal Canadian Henley champion gets told after today’s win that he really has to go for it in tomorrow’s race. In effect, not to settle even for first place so that no one thinks it’s a fluke.

Fred is crouched over an ex rower’s bike, fixing some problem. The rest of us stand around, waiting. “Geez you guys – here I thought I was done rigging your equipment after you stopped rowing….”

An infant grabs Fred’s outstretched finger in her tiny hand. He nods with approval “Yep. Gonna be a sculler.”