Growing up in the Clinton County town of New Baden, Brent Brede created some indelible memories both for himself and anybody who followed Wesclin High School sports.
Few will forget his 36-point performance to help the Warriors to a double-overtime win over Prairie Central in the 1990 Class A state basketball championship game. Nor will they forget that left-handed swing that took him all the way to the major leagues.
For Brede, though, the fondest memories are of family and a common interest in sports that ties together three generations. He played baseball for his father, David Brede, at Wesclin. Now he’s coaching his son, Nate Brede, on the court.
Now 72 and in good health, Dave Brede has never missed a game where his son coaches and his grandson plays.
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“Now I look back so fondly that I had the opportunity to play for my dad and having that chance,” Brent Brede said. “It wasn’t something we thought about at the time because we were in high school, and we were concerned about playing games. But sports was what we had in common. It’s how we connected.
“And I guess it’s the same for me and my son, Nate. We connect through athletics.”
Already 6-foot-6 and a junior on the Warriors basketball team, Nate Brede reminds many of his father as a basketball player.
Soft-spoken and a bit shy, he currently leads the Warriors in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.1). Ranked first in the News-Democrat Class 1A-2A poll, Wesclin is 8-1 after a 53-35 conference win over Central on Friday.
The lone junior in the Warriors’ senior-dominated starting five, Brede said the attitude and overall team chemistry is beyond what they had a year ago. Wesclin won a regional title but lost in the Class 2A sectional semifinals.
“It’s been a good start to the season. We’re playing well as a team, and we’ve got great team chemistry. We all get along both on and off the court,” Nate Brede said. “Last season we were up and down. Our main focus was to win a regional title, and we were able to do that.”
The relationship between father and son — and coach and player — has also improved.
Now 46, Brent Brede was drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round of the 1990 Major League Baseball draft. He made his big-league debut with the Twins in 1996 and, the following year, hit .274 with three home runs in 190 at-bats.
The Arizona Diamondbacks stole him in the expansion draft in 1998 and put him on the franchise’s first roster. Brede spent one season in Arizona and retired from baseball after a year in Japan.
Maybe it’s because he competed at the highest level that he carried high expectations for his son. He’s learned to manage those expectations, however, and says both player and coach have matured some because of them.
“He and I survived that period, and today we’re in a much better situation,” he said. “I have learned to take what happens at basketball practice and leave it at practice. I don’t take it home as much, and over the years, he has learned to make a few concessions as well to make my life easier as a coach.”
Nate says being the son of Brent Brede has its moments, but isn’t as stressful as some might expect. He says he admires his dad’s athletic career but appreciates the man even more.
“We’re very close. There are times when I feel like he is harder on me than the other kids, but it’s not as bad as people say,” he said. “We are a lot alike. We’re both introverts, and neither one of us is really outgoing. We have a lot of the same interests, like the outdoors and sports. We’re also very competitive people.”
As a basketball player, Nate Brede has come a long way according to his dad, who admits he sometimes still voices his opinions when he should know better.
“When you are watching your son out there playing with the rest of the team, you are still his dad,” Brent Brede said. “You see things that he does or does not do, and it bothers you.
“I’ve done my best to treat him the same that I treat every other player. To Nate’s credit, he has done a better job of playing the game like every other player.”
So far, Nate Brede has played the game as well as anybody in the Cahokia Conference.
After suffering their first loss to league rival Salem, Nate Brede and the Warriors bounded back to defeat Red Bud 56-33. Nate Brede had nine points and added a team-high nine rebounds.
When asked to compare his own game to that of Nate’s at similar stages in their careers, Brent Brede said his son stacks up quite favorably.
“I hate to compare because he is his own kid. Nate has a very different personality and demeanor than I did at that age. He is taller than I was, and he probably shoots better than I did,” he said. “I’m actually a little surprised at how he has matured and developed.
“When he was a younger player, I didn’t know that he would become quite the player that he is. Not that he’s a great player, but he’s kind of exceeded expectations of where he would be at this age.”
Nate isn’t the only active athlete in the Brede household. His younger sister, 13-year-old Chloe Brede, is a nationally ranked swimmer in several events.
When Nate Brede isn’t playing basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer, he spends at least some time doing things with his dad.
“We’ll sit and watch a game together, and we’ve been hunting. We also fish quite a bit together in the summer,” Nate Brede said.
One of the things Brent Brede hopes for his son is the same thing his dad wanted for him when he competed.
“As an athlete, I just have always wanted Nate to enjoy playing and learn life’s lessons through athletics. That was a way I could connect with him,” Brent Brede said. “My expectations for him as an athlete are probably less than you might expect.
“Being a professional athlete for a period, I realized that for the majority of my life and his life that I am going to be a father, a husband and a teacher. Whether he had a tremendous amount of success as an athlete never really mattered to me. I’m a man, and I want to help him become a good man.”