Carl Fruechte and the Caledonia Warriors high school football team are no strangers to being in the spotlight, but the head coach of the team that has the nation's longest active win streak is under scrutiny for a letter he wrote to the editor of a small-town newspaper.
Fruechte, who has led Caledonia to 71 consecutive wins and five straight Class 2A state championships, wrote a letter to The Caledonia Argyle in response to a new Diversity Club at Caledonia High School that was launched by students to create a safe space for all to feel welcome.
In his letter, Fruechte questioned if the club would embrace students who disagree with homosexuality. In his words:
"What if someone joins your group and believes homosexuality is wrong- are you going to be understanding and let them share their view or are you going to shut them down? You say the Diversity Club will be here for anyone, will it truly be for anyone including people that oppose LGBTQIA+? Will Christian students be allowed in the group to agree to disagree with your opinion?"
Fruechte's letter was published Jan. 27 and has since drawn dozens of responses, some of them filled with anger and name-calling. One person responded by calling Fruechte's letter a "thinly veiled attack against homosexuality."
Another wrote: "Can you disagree on opinions? Yes. Can you disagree with another’s own personal identity? No. That is inherently their identity and it is not up for discussion or opinion."
A letter from a community member supporting Fruechte argued that the coach shouldn't be attacked for asking a tough question.
"The emotional responses, assumptions, and attempts to attack the character of a person that simply posed a few questions proved to the masses that there should be an all-inclusive Diversity Club in the community, even for some adults," the letter reads. "Carl never stated a personal opinion, made a statement of his faith, or passed judgement on anyone. He praised the students involved for wanting to start the group."
The Diversity Club meets twice a month, with the teacher who oversees it telling the Star Tribune that it is geared to learn about "other cultures, perspectives, and all things that make each human unique."
Caledonia Schools Superintendent Craig Ihrke told KTTC that the club should've been created a long time ago.
"It's a safe place for people to come and share their opinions," Ihrke told the southeast Minnesota TV station. "I think it's something that should of happened long before everywhere. Not, just in Caledonia but it's obvious that we need to embrace others and celebrate differences when it's appropriate to do so."
In 19 years as head coach at Caledonia, Fruechte has compiled 172 wins and just 31 losses. His .847 winning percentage is the highest among active coaches in the state and ranks third all time, according to the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.