During Willie Fritz’s first pre-season camp at Sam Houston State in 2010, he handed each player a T-shirt with ‘Opportunity Is Now Here’ printed across the front. The Bearkats then completed a 6-5 season that fall.
After attending the FCS Championship game that December, Fritz came back to campus and wrote three things on the board in the locker room – ‘6-5, average; 8-3, good; 10-1, great.’ The Bearkats responded even better than ‘great’ with a 14-1 record in 2011, their only loss being to South Dakota State in the FCS Championship to South Dakota State.
Fritz now has a 20-6 record in his two seasons at SHSU. He earned Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors and was selected by American Football Monthly as the Football Championship Subdivision Coach of the Year for 2011. The Bearkats 14 victories marks the most wins in one season in Sam Houston’s 96 years of football.
During a 30-year coaching career, Fritz has been part of programs both as a head coach and as an assistant that have produced an overall record of 234 wins, 66 losses, and five ties. Before being named Sam Houston’s head coach in December of 2009, Fritz rolled up a 97-47 record in 13 seasons as Central Missouri’s head coach. He became the only Central Missouri coach to produce eight consecutive seasons of seven or more wins.
Fritz played college football at Pittsburg State where he was a four-year starter as a defensive back. He then served as a high school assistant coach before being named defensive coordinator at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas in 1987. From there, he went to SHSU as defensive backs and special teams coach and then became head coach at Blinn Junior College in 1993. At Blinn, he turned a program around that had been 5-24-1 in its three previous seasons, producing a 39-5-1 record. Blinn won two national junior college championships under Fritz and he was later inducted into the NJCAA hall of Fame.
Fritz’ father, the late, Harry Fritz, was Central Missouri’s head coach in 1952 and later became the executive director of the NAIA.