The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013
This would’ve been an incredible year for Fred Eden. He was the first girls’ track and field coach at Jordan High and helped the Panthers football team win Moore League championships as an assistant coach while he was teaching there for 39 years.
Both Jordan track and field and the football team had historic seasons with a CIF title and CIF championship game appearance, respectively. Unfortunately, Eden was not here to see it after he passed away last September. He was 70.
“Fred was the best judge of talent that I ever saw,” said one of Eden’s best friends Tom Sourbeer. “He would always say things like, ‘That kid is going to be the Moore League high jump champ in two years’ and he was always right. He could find the kid who didn’t know how good he was and make a champion out of him or her.”
Eden grew up in Redondo Beach and attended West Torrance High School before coming to Long Beach State where he earned his teaching credential in 1975, the year he married his wife, Nancy.
“He always knew he wanted to be a teacher,” Nancy said. “He was always ready to help anyone who needed it, from neighbors to friends. He was just an all-around nice guy.”
Eden made a huge impact off the field at Jordan as well, and mentored many students like Pam Marshall who went on to compete at the Olympics and then returned to Jordan herself to take over for Eden as track and field coach when he retired from coaching in 2013.
“He was really gifted at reaching out to those lost kids in the middle who were getting lost in the shuffle and letting them know that he believed in them and was fighting for them,” Sourbeer said. “When alums would come back to campus, their first stop was always Mr. Eden’s classroom.”
Eden helped the girls’ track and field team win Jordan’s first ever CIF championship in 1982. In 1983, Lisa Winston became the first and only CIF State champion in school history when she won the 100 and 200 meter races.
Towards the end of his career, Eden was running the scoreboard for the Long Beach State basketball games and taking time to raise his son, Jeff, who went to Lakewood and played water polo.
“He was always there for me in sports, but never forced me into anything,” Jeff said. “He wanted to be the parent and not the coach for me. One of the reasons he stopped coaching at the end was so he could watch me.”