TOLLESON, AZ — The Tolleson community is mourning the loss of a teacher and coach who died from COVID-19.
Ash Friederich, 40, died Saturday evening after battling the virus. The former Tucson sportswriter changed careers to become a teacher at Tolleson High School, and quickly moved to coaching.
"I don’t know what to say," said Scott Richardson, Head Baseball Coach for Tolleson High School and colleague of Friederich. "[He was] just your typical sports nut that you could probably just sit next to on any Sunday at a sports bar and just start talking sports."
Friederich didn't have much coaching experiencing but was able to connect with students and student-athletes in a way that was invaluable to Richardson and his coaching staff.
"I explained to him, 'Well the things you bring to the table can’t really be taught easily. We can teach you the baseball stuff that’s easy to teach but the way you connect with students, the rapport you have, we really needed somebody to be the full-time good cop," said Richardson.
According to the district, Friederich was hired in 2016 as an English teacher. He was also a sponsor for yearbook. In 2017, he was an Asst. Coach for girls softball and girls basketball. In 2018, Mr. Friederich served as a JV coach for girls softball. In 2019, he was an Asst. Coach for Freshman baseball. This year, he was a football coach in the freshman/sophomore program.
On Friday, Tolleson announced that a rise in COVID-19 cases is cause for the cancellation of the remainder of the volleyball season and football season, despite the football program having not yet played a game.
On Monday, the Tolleson Unified High School District confirmed Friederich's death in a statement:
"Dear TUHSD Parents, Guardians and Students,
I am sending you this letter because I want to make sure that all parents, guardians, and students receive the same information about a recent tragedy at TUHSD. We received heartbreaking news this weekend that one of our beloved Tolleson Union High School/University High School Teachers and Coaches, Ash Friederich, passed away. Mr. Friederich’s death was unexpected and heartbreaking. We do not have service information at this time.
Death can be difficult for us to understand, especially when it is sudden. Many of us may be confronted with a variety of emotions, which might include shock, sadness, and confusion. I want to assure you that we, the entire TUHSD staff, care about you and the feelings you may be experiencing.
Social workers and counselors will be available to receive your phone calls and set up a virtual TEAMS meeting with you to help you deal with any feelings you may be having. They will also be available at any time during the day to help if you feel a more urgent need to talk with someone. We want to encourage those students who may be particularly upset, perhaps even struggling with a death in their family or of a friend, or just in need of additional support, to reach out. We are here for you. We are family!
At this time if you would like to send a card or write a letter to the family, please send that to the school, or email one of the team members listed on the next page. Sharing one of your favorite memories of Mr. Friederich could be a way to support his family in this time of grieving. Unfortunately at this time students cannot congregate at the school.
Tolleson Union High School District will continue to focus on keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible. COVID-19 is in our community and does not discriminate. It is important that we all continue to follow the health and safety protocols to keep ourselves and our families, friends, teachers and TUHSD staff safe. We have been diligently following the health and safety protocols since March; let’s not stop now. I want you all to know that we are #TollesonStrong and that together we will get through this.
Tolleson Union High School District"