There were times this summer when Jayden Freidt would come home, plop himself on the couch and relax as if he was on a hammock in Hawaii. If anyone had earned some rest and relaxation time, it was Freidt, who practiced with the football team in the morning and afternoon and the basketball team in the evening.
At times, Freidt couldn’t make some of the San Benito summer league basketball games because of the grueling nature of the football workouts.
“Some days I was just beat up from football, but I tried to make it to as many basketball games as I could,” he said. “I also had to work a lot (at Ridgemark Golf Club), so it was a very eventful summer.”
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Freidt enters his senior year with high hopes and expectations for himself and the Haybalers’ football and basketball squads. He focused on certain areas to improve his game in both sports. For basketball, Freidt worked on creating his own shot, which would take his game to another level.
“I just need to expand my game and create a bucket if I have to,” he said.
A returning cornerback, Freidt’s focus in football was on the fundamentals, including his backpedal, being able to break up short routes, the curl ins and staying on the hip of a receiver. Athletic and instinctive, Freidt also plays physical and has the ability to make game-changing plays.
“This year I’m shooting for eight, nine picks, that’s the goal,” he said. “I also might see a little time at running back as well, which is something I’m looking forward to.”
San Benito’s impressive spring season on the gridiron combined with a glut of returning starters has Freidt believing the Balers will break their 10-year league title drought in the upcoming season, which kicks off on Aug. 27. Freidt and quarterback Tyler Pacheco—who is also a football-basketball standout—push each other on the field, in the weight room and just about everything else.
In addition to being on the same sports teams, they work at Ridgemark and lift weights together at San Benito Strength in Tres Pinos. Freidt grew up playing soccer—his first love—and competed in that until he was 11 or 12. He started playing competitive basketball next and football was the last to come into the mix in his sophomore year.
Freidt would probably not be playing had Balers’ football coach Bryan Smith not approached him during after school academic focused time in his freshman year.
After Smith asked Freidt what he had to do to get Freidt to come out for the football team, Freidt replied, “Well, you’ll have to talk to my mom.” And that’s exactly what Smith did, reaching out to Tamra during one of Jayden’s basketball games.
“The next thing you know, I was on the field,” Freidt said.
Freidt never had a strong interest in football until friends and coaches started saying he could excel in it. Now, it’s what he looks forward to the most.
“The vibe of football is like no other sport,” he said. “It’s just different with the camaraderie and everything that goes into it. It’s my new love.”
San Benito basketball coach Bo Buller was effusive in his praise for his multi-dimensional talent. Freidt can play either guard position and forward, creates off the dribble, shoots from the perimeter and is motivated to improve upon his weaknesses.
“Jayden is a brutally honest self-assessor,” Buller said. “He has the rare combination of having natural physical gifts and virtually no ego about his game, and it’s not lacking confidence. He has the maturity to say, ‘I need to do this better.’”
Buller highlighted one point last season when Freidt wasn’t scoring at his normal clip. The coach pulled the player aside after practice one day to see if there was anything he could do to help.
“He said, ‘The game plan is good and we’re playing better. I need to refocus and not suck on the offensive end. I’ll be here and get shots up so I’m ready,’” Buller said. “Jayden elevates his game and steps up in big moments. He now has the experience to fine tune it this year on the field and on the court to leave a great legacy here as a Haybaler.”
Freidt knows his future probably belongs in football, but whatever opportunity arises, he’ll take it.
“I just have to put in the work and hopefully some offers start coming in,” he said. “I just know whether it’s D1, D2, D3, whatever level, I just want to continue playing. I don’t know what life would be without sports.”
Freidt’s can-do attitude is a reason why he continually improves in sports. This summer he took up golf for the first time and his attitude seems to suggest he’s in it for the long haul.
“It can be a very frustrating game if you let it get to you,” he said. “It’s a very peaceful game and you go out there to have a good time. If you mess up, well, you know you’re not good anyway, you’re not a pro. If you hit a good shot, you can celebrate. So to me you can only win when you’re out on the golf course.”
Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]