Passing the ball

Within mountains there are valleys, and former West High girls basketball head coach BJ Mayer faced plenty of both during his era of coaching. Throughout his 15 seasons, Mayer had arguably more triumphs than defeats, with two state championships and successful overall seasons. His competitive and supportive coaching style led him to receive praise from all over Iowa, but his undeniable knack for coaching was set in stone in 2018 when the Des Moines Register named him their All-Iowa Coach of the Year. That year brought Mayer many tough losses, but his fire and passion motivated the star-studded team to a state championship, winning against not only a team, but the Trojans’ rival.

“We beat City High in 2018, so it’s always great to beat your crosstown rival in the state championship game,” Mayer said.

 Not many coaches can say they built a team from the ground up as remarkably as Mayer did that year.

However, Mayer wasn’t the only factor in leading the team to success during his years of coaching. Nate Frese, the newly crowned head coach, has been coaching a variety of sports since he was just 17. What started as a high school and college hobby led him to not only his shiny new title but also the past 23 years of coaching sports at West High. Through coaching soccer to boys basketball and now finally girls basketball, Frese has built himself quite the resume that ultimately made him the obvious choice to succeed Mayer. Frese began his assistant coach position in 2019 when the now-seniors were just freshmen. Now, as their head coach, Frese is excited about seeing them finish their high school careers by his side. 

“Following them for almost four years now and seeing that journey to fruition is exciting for me,” Frese said.

Following them for almost four years now and seeing that journey to fruition is exciting for me.”

— Nate Frese

Even though Frese has been with the team for a couple of years now, he still has those first-day jitters many people experience when entering a new position. 

“If somehow I wind up taking a misstep here or there or we have two injuries, and somebody gets really sick, you know, all the things that could go wrong,” Frese said. 

With Frese’s current position as an English teacher and the head of the English department at West, he gets time to build a connection with his players on and off the court. Former coach Mayer believes that is one of the reasons why he fits so well into his new title. 

“A lot of times, you don’t have to be a teacher to be a coach, but I think it helps get to know those kids and, you know, he definitely has that,” Mayer said.