ROTTERDAM — Jason Friesen starts in his new role Monday as athletic director for Mohonasen.
He’s ready to go.
“This has been the goal for a while,” Friesen said. “It was something I started to figure out about 10 years into coaching and teaching that this was the direction I wanted to go in, what I wanted to do.”
Previously, Matt Stein had been Mohonasen’s athletic director. Stein started at Mohonasen in Sept. 2014 after replacing Joe Scalise, who left the Mohonasen district for the same position with the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake district. Stein left Mohonasen for the same position with North Colonie schools.
Friesen, 47, comes to Mohonasen after serving as a physical education teacher in the Rye City School District for the past 14 school years. He coached several sports during his time at Rye, but gave up coaching a few years ago as he pursued and earned his master of science degree in educational leadership and administration from Long Island University so he could become an athletic director.
“This is where I really wanted to get to,” Friesen said.
Friesen has traveled a bit to get to this point. Born in Toronto and raised in Kitchener, Friesen left Ontario during his high school years to attend a Pennsylvania prep school where he played football, ice hockey and lacrosse. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Maryland and his graduate work at Columbia University, and has lived in the United States for his entire adult life.
Friesen worked at a school in New York City for a few years before heading to Rye, where he coached a variety of sports. He was an assistant for the school’s varsity softball team for a few years, and coached girls’ volleyball at the JV level for eight years and the varsity level for one, but Friesen’s main coaching role was with the school’s varsity ice hockey team.
Friesen led the Rye hockey program from 2004 to 2013. During his tenure, Rye won three sectional championships and appeared in one state final four.
“Having both a coaching and a teaching background,” Friesen said, “that’s where my strengths are [as an athletic director].”
Friesen has some familiarity with the Capital Region. He said his family owns a vacation home in North Creek near Gore Mountain, and has spent time in the area between there and Albany.
“So we love the area,” Friesen said. “We’re glad to be headed back.”
As a first-time athletic director, Friesen said he needs to use his first few months on the job to interact with coaches and fellow administrators before proposing any major changes.
“I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like yet, but I’m learning bits and pieces already,” Friesen said. “I’m excited.”
Part of the reason for that excitement, Friesen said, is because he inherited a department in solid shape from Stein. Friesen has had several conversations with Stein — and expects to have more — about Mohonasen and its programs, and the new Mighty Warriors athletic director also said he’s been in touch with Scalise about the position and Suburban Council business.
“He actually reached out to me,” Friesen said of Scalise, “which was fantastic.”
In general, Friesen said he views the environment he’s heading into as one that should allow for a smooth transition to his leadership.
“I’ve already had some coaches reach out to me,” Friesen said. “I know there’s a lot to learn, but I also feel like there’s a lot there to help me, too.”