WASECA — “Vibrant” was a word Waseca head football coach Brad Wendland used over and over to describe assistant coach Fred Statz, who died Monday night in a car accident.
“He had the ability to take a kid who liked football and make him love it,” Wendland said. “And his energy and his passion was limitless. That’s how he lived his life. He made us all better as coaches.”
Statz, 25, of Mankato died when his 1998 Mercury and a semi collided near Waseca at about 8 p.m. Monday. The crash was on Waseca County Road 27 at the intersection of Waseca County Road 14. The driver of the 2009 Peterbuilt 389, 46-year-old Anthony E. Simon of Braman, was not injured.
Wendland said Statz’s parents live in Middleton, Wis. State Patrol lists Statz’s address as Cross Plains, Wis. But Wendland said Statz lived in Mankato and worked nights at a manufacturing job in Mankato, driving to Waseca to coach.
Wendland met Statz two years ago when Waseca was looking for a coach for the junior varsity level. Wendland contacted friends at Minnesota State University, and they recommended Statz, who had been a football player at MSU from 2005-09.
“They said, ‘Well, we’ve got this guy, Fred. ... He’s a young guy with a lot of energy, and I think he’d be a good fit,’” Wendland said. “I remember going home to the staff and saying, ‘I met this guy, and he’s really young, and he’s got a lot of energy, and I really like him.’”
Wendland said after Statz was hired, the two developed a friendship.
“He was just so much fun,” Wendland said. “He just had so much energy, and he made things exciting. The less than two years I knew him was like a blur. He was just vibrant.”