LAWRENCE (KSNT)- KU Director of Basketball Operations Fred Quartlebaum relied on his Jayhawk family earlier this year.
Quartlebaum lost his father, Fred Senor, to cancer in January. He says his friends and coworkers at the University of Kansas were tremendous in helping him through that tough time.
“The basketball community, the Lawrence community, the world, they were unbelievably supportive,” Quartlebaum said. “It started with, obviously, our family. But I’m talking about our basketball family. Starting with Coach Self, our assistant coaches, our players and everybody involved.”
Coach Q says much of that support actually came before he lost his dad, throughout his father’s battle with cancer.
“They allowed me to really dive in and be what we call a caregiver,” Quartlebaum said. “I don’t know if there’s a playbook for it, but for the last nine months that was my number one priority.”
Being able to support his father throughout that journey while knowing his fellow coaches, KU players and even Jayhawk fans fully understood meant a lot to him.
“To have the support from our Lawrence community and our basketball family just made that caregiving relationship with my dad extremely special,” he said.
As for what Coach learned from his dad? A lot.
“He was going through, obviously, a terminal battle,” Quartlebaum said. “But just to see him get up every day and still fight. Fight to live. That was the important thing. Sometimes we go through some struggles and adversity and he obviously was at that point.”
The way his father dealt with his extensive dose of adversity served as inspiration for Quartlebaum.
“He continued to fight, continued to keep a smile on his face, continued to stay positive,” Quartlebaum said before smiling and adding one more thing the cancer diagnosis never stopped his dad from doing. “Continued to follow Kansas basketball.”
Coach couldn’t help but smile as he joked that his dad was quick to share his thoughts after a loss. In seriousness: Fred Senior never made it about himself, even when he faced circumstances bigger, scarier and tougher than basketball.
“He kept his focus on Kansas,” Quartlebaum said. “He kept his focus on me.”
Coach Q says his dad wasn’t out for sympathy from others.
“[He] didn’t feel sorry for himself,” Coach said. “I learned a lot from that because we go through the same thing in our life. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You got to stay positive. You got to keep grinding. And that’s what [my dad] continued to do every single day, so I try to continue to live off that.”
Quartlebaum takes pride in building great culture at KU, alongside many other impactful staff members. He also relishes in the opportunity to impact lives. Perhaps some young Jayhawk fans can learn a few things from Fred Quartlebaum — both Junior and Senior.
“I think first and foremost, for Junior Jayhawks, we all talk about skill development. We all talk about training and things like that,” Coach said. “But I would really challenge them to do more reading. I would challenge them to become better teammates. I don’t think we teach that part of the game.”
Coach adds that toughness and battling adversity is important.
“If there’s a loose ball on the floor, learn from Kevin McCullar, go after it with two hands,” Coach Q said.
Qaurtlebaum’s exclusive interview with 27 Sports Director Glenn Kinley aired Sunday night on K-Nation. For more K-Nation content click here.
The Jayhawks play Howard in round one of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.