High School Assistant Coach Dies of COVID-19 Complications: He 'Always Had a Smile on His Face'

Jason Duaine Hahn
·3 min read

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A beloved assistant coach from an Arizona high school left his community reeling after succumbing to coronavirus complications this weekend.

Ash Friederich of Tolleson High School died on Saturday evening after a bout with the virus, according to ABC affiliate KNXV. The 40-year-old coach had been a part of the school's community since 2016, when he was hired as an English teacher.

"I don’t know what to say," Scott Richardson, head baseball coach for Tolleson High, told the news station. "[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 quickly became an assistant coach for girls softball and basketball in 2017, then served as a junior varsity coach for girls softball in 2018. This year, after serving as an assistant coach for freshman baseball, Friederich was named coach for the school's freshman and sophomore team.

"Ash was the guy that always had a smile on his face," Richardson told the Arizona Republic. "He played the role of good cop to a T, always there to add an encouraging word or pick up a player after a bad game."

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According to Roy Lopez, who runs the school's football program, Friederich became sick three weeks ago. Lopez told the Republic that Friederich had taken two coronavirus tests but each came back negative, which he says were ultimately false negatives.

The FDA says false-positive results are possible and may occur for various reasons, such as an antibody test detecting a different coronavirus other than the one causing the current pandemic (SARS-CoV-2).

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"He progressively got worse," Lopez told the Republic. "We had already quarantined. Then, after a few days, he was feeling better.

"He had a high respiratory infection on Friday and was admitted [to the hospital]," he added.

It is unclear whether Friederich had been diagnosed with an underlying condition, which can heighten a person's risk of serious coronavirus symptoms.

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"Hockey meant everything to him," Tyler Amburgey's wife said

According to a New York Times database, Arizona has experienced 6,022 deaths and 249,822 cases attributed to coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon.

The country as a whole has seen 231,990 deaths and more than 9.4 million cases.

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