Since the 1970s, Libby’s Greenchain wrestling has had a devoted fan and follower, a booster and a man ready to help where he could in Harvey Frederickson.
“Really, I never refereed or did anything like that, I’d just give kids encouragement and stuff,” Frederickson responded when asked about helping out with the Greenchain.
Yet, over the years, he made sure Libby wrestlers had a ride to tournaments or new shirts to wrestle in, said his wife, Dolores. Through news clippings and on the road, he has followed their wrestling careers from an age when they toddled onto the mat all the way to state championships.
Along with Dolores’ brother-in-law, Don Madison, Harvey would give rides to wrestlers whose parents had to work or had any other reason they wouldn’t have been able to go to a tournament without that ride, she said.
When the Fredericksons met, Dolores, a widow, had three young children, they said.
“We’ve always liked kids, and Harvey didn’t have any, but mine are his, and they think the world of him,” Dolores Frederickson said.
None of Dolores’ children participated in wrestling, so Harvey Frederickson didn’t become involved the way many of the program’s supporters do, through a direct connection.
“I like kids, and I like wrestling, Harvey Frederickson said. “I watched the little ones come up, you know, and some of ‘em end up good, and some of ‘em not so good.”
Frederickson is a former high school boxer and football player. He even had a chance to play football for Idaho State, but instead of finishing his senior year, volunteered to serve in the Korean War.
“And I could have stayed out of goin’ over, but I didn’t want to because a lot of my friends were in there too,” he said.
But his love of sports stuck with him, and when his hometown high school in Ashton, Idaho, developed a strong wrestling team after boxing was phased, he kept up with them.
Frederickson has a stack of news clippings, including the Idaho wrestling team that won the National Championship.
He pointed out an article about Logger wrestler Josh Erickson.
“This guy right here, I think he was the greatest wrestler to ever come out of Libby,” he said of the twice Tri-State Champion. “Nobody I know of has won the championship twice over there, because you’ve got Oregon, Washington — all of them big schools come in over there. Even California sent wrestlers up there.”
In the upstairs hall, Frederickson has a collection of pictures, pins, a plaque from the Libby High School booster club. Some are team pictures, others are graduation announcements from wrestlers who he cheered on when they were in the Little Guy program.
See the need
Though Frederickson had a grandson in wrestling eventually, when he first started following the Loggers and going to matches, his only connection was a love of the sport.
“I think, wrestling, I think it’s just a great benefit, because the kid learns to be a sport: he has to lose, he has to shake the other guy’s hand,” he said.
Wrestling teaches discipline and how to prepare and work hard in order to achieve goals.
“There’s just a lot of things they have to do that other kids don’t have to do, and I think it just brings them up to be a good individual, really,” he said.
Along the way, as he went to Greenchain matches, Frederickson began to notice wrestlers and families who needed a little help. His instinctive response was to meet that need.
“You know, you watch, and you see, some of these kids not having a decent shirt or t-shirt or something, and I’d buy ‘em a shirt,” he said. “Made me feel as good as it did them.”
But beyond helping with equipment and transportation, Frederickson become someone the wrestlers knew would be there rooting for them as well.
“It always made ‘em happy that I noticed ‘em and maybe bought them a t-shirt or sweatshirt or something,” he said. “Just knowing I was there, I think probably helped some of them kids, ‘cause I took an interest in ‘em, you know, and how they were progressing. It was a lot of fun, following them.”
And the wrestlers remember Harvey Frederickson as well, Dolores Frederickson said, as a ttested to by the graduation announcements hanging in the hallway.
Frederickson follows school sports all around the area, he said. Some athletes he has followed their entire career, but never watched compete.
But with Libby wrestling, he was a regular attendee from local matches to trips to state championships. He’s in the team picture from the 2003-2004 ‘A’ Western Divisional Champion Libby High School wrestling team holding the team’s championship plaque.
The picture hangs in the upstairs hall, the frame adorned with the signatures of the team members.
“That was a fun deal,” he said, remembering the trip he and Madison took to Hamilton for the tournament.
“We knew all the kids, and a lot of the parents, so we were right in with them,” he said. “That was a real good group there.”
At 87 and with a bad back, Frederickson doesn’t get to as many Libby matches as he once did, he said. But, that doesn’t stop him from keeping up with the team. “I get the paper every day and I keep track of the kids in the sports -- whatever the sport is.”
Depending on how the weather and roads are, he said he hopes to make it to at least some of the local matches this year.