BV North basketball legend Ann Fritz will make history coaching McDonald’s All-American game

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Correction: This story now states Ed Fritz previously coached at Blue Valley Northwest. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said he coached at Blue Valley North. 

Five years after coaching the East boys team in the McDonald’s High School All-American game, an annual showcase event that features the best high school basketball players in the country, Ed Fritz still tracks what his former players are up to.

He anticipates his wife Ann will be doing the same thing after she coaches the West team in the girls’ McDonald’s High School All-American game at Houston’s Toyota Center Tuesday evening.

When she steps on the sideline, Fritz will also be making history.

Ann Fritz is already a coaching legend in the KC area

Ann Fritz just completed her 28th season as the girls head coach at Blue Valley North High School.

The Mustangs finished third at last month’s Kansas Class 6A state tournament in Wichita, a follow-up defense of their title-winning season a year ago.

North, overall, has won four Kansas state titles under Fritz’s leadership.

Ann Fritz stands beside a Blue Valley North logo.
Ann Fritz. Photo credit Greg Echlin.

Fritzes will be first husband-and-wife duo to coach McDonald’s games

Terri Lynn Wootten, director of the McDonald’s All-American Games Nominations and Selections Committee, telephoned Ann Fritz earlier this year with the news that she would coach this year’s West team.

As is often the case, she was in the Blue Valley North gym when she received the call and was thrilled.

It’s the first time a husband and wife combo will have coached McDonald’s teams in separate years. (The first McDonald’s game for girls was played in 2002. The boys’ game dates back to 1978.)

“It’s just a first-class event that the Woottens (Joe and his wife Terri Lynn) have,” said Ann Fritz. “It’s a really cool experience for the kids and obviously the coaches. It’s a kid’s dream to make the McDonald’s All-American game.”

Ann Fritz has won more than 600 career games

Wootten said the uniqueness of a husband and wife coaching high school all-stars in separate seasons wasn’t the reason Ann Fritz was selected this year.

When asked about the criteria, Wootten said, “We look at their career history within high school basketball, how they affect the kids, how successful they are with a win-loss record and how they impact their community within their hometown and in their own high school.”

Fritz has more than 600 wins to her credit with Blue Valley North.

Having previously accompanying Ed to the showcase event for high school hoops stars when he coached the boys, Ann was convinced she’d be in for a rewarding experience.

Ed Fritz, the former boys coach at Blue Valley Northwest, where he won five state titles, is currently the head coach at North Kansas City High School.

“He had a blast,” recalled Ann. “It was great. He interacted with the players.”

NBA players Ed Fritz still follows closely from the 2019 game include Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons and Cole Anthony of the Orlando Magic.

McDonald’s game is showcase for rising basketball stars

As with the boys, the girls McDonald’s game regularly draws the nation’s premier prep talent, regularly featuring players that go on to become household names, including current NCAA stars Caitlin Clark of Iowa and Angel Reese of LSU, as well as now-seasoned WNBA professionals like Candace Parker and Kelsey Plum.

One player of note on this year’s girls roster on the West team Fritz will coach is Me’Arah O’Neal, a 6-foot-3 post player and the daughter of former NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. She’s a senior at Episcopal High School in Houston and has committed to play at the University of Florida next season.

Overall, Fritz’s West team this year features a dozen high school players hailing from as far away as California, Idaho and Minnesota.

Ann Fritz had been researching O’Neal and the others players prior to her departure to Houston late last week.

“They’re phenomenal athletes and seem like great people,” she said.

“I hope to teach them a little”

While Ann Fritz follows up on the progress of her players in college and, down the road possibly in the WNBA, she’d like to hang onto those relationships she has developed through her years with the Mustangs.

“Some of the kids I’ve coached are married and have kids now. All that means a lot to me, too,” said Fritz.

As skilled as the all-stars already are, Fritz hopes to make an impact on them by providing something they not already learned upon their arrival to practices in Houston.

“I hope to teach them a little about the game of basketball,” she said.

Fritz looks forward most to forging new relationships. And maybe leading the West team to a win.

Local basketball fans can watch the game, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

About the author

Greg Echlin
Greg Echlin

Greg Echlin is a freelance sports journalist who reports frequently for Kansas City area news outlets.