A small street on the University of Arizona campus honors a man who helped put Arizona Wildcats athletics on the map.

Fred A. Enke was born to Fred W. and Emma (Stephen) Enke, on July 12, 1897 in Rochester, Minn.

His father was a farmer and his mother a housewife. He attended Rochester High School and then went on to the University of Minnesota, where he played football and basketball and was a member of the 1918-1919 Golden Gophers basketball squad that went 13-0, and was named national champions. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1921.

After college he served as basketball and assistant football coach at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. from 1921 to ’23. During his final year at the school he married Charline Tehon in Wyoming.

The couple spent the next two years in Louisville, Ky., where Enke served as the first athletic director at the University of Louisville.

Their only child, Fred W. Enke, was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1924.

The following year, the family relocated to Tucson, where Enke joined the staff of athletic director J.F. “Pop” McKale, (the namesake for McKale Memorial Center) as assistant football and head basketball coach at the University of Arizona. Soon he began coaching in what is now called Bear Down Gym.

His tenure as head coach of the basketball team lasted 36 years, which included his 1932-33 team that won the first of 11 championships in the newly organized Border Conference. He won seven straight conference titles from 1943 through 1951, and took the university to its first postseason basketball appearance, the National Invitation Tournament at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, in 1946. Between 1945 and 1951 his teams won an outstanding 81 straight home games. In 1961, when he retired from coaching basketball, his final record was 523 wins and 346 losses, with his record at Arizona being 510 wins and 326 losses. At the time, he was one of just five collegiate coaches to have accomplished 500 wins in his career.

Among his best players on the hardwood were brothers Stewart and Morris Udall, who later gained fame in politics. Morris Udall, the namesake of Tucson’s Udall Park, ran for president and represented Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives for three decades. Stewart served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Enke also served as head football coach in 1931 and was a football line coach and scout through 1946. He also established golf as a varsity sport at the university and coached the team from 1935 to 1966, winning 11 conference titles. Fred Enke Golf Course north of Irvington Road and west of Camino Seco, is named in his honor.

Enke was the first Arizona coach to be named to the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame in 1951, the first basketball coach to be inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1969, and was a charter member of the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. He was also inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

His son Fred W. Enke, when he played quarterback at Tucson High School, was known as “Firing” Fred Enke (in a backfield that included “Jarring” Jim Lochner, Fred “Free Wheeling” Batiste and Elmo “Twinkletoes” Turner ) played for his father at UA, and went on to become the first quarterback from Arizona to play in the NFL. He played from 1948-1954 for the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts.

Fred A. Enke died in 1985 at age 88. His son, Fred W. Enke, died in April at age 89.


Special thanks to Erika Castano of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship at the University of Arizona Libraries.

Fred August Enke biographical file (University of Arizona Special Collections).

Fred A. Enke biographical files (Tucson Citizen archives).

“Ex-UA coach Enke dies,” Arizona Daily Star, Nov. 3, 1985.

David L. Porter, “Basketball: A Biographical Dictionary,” Greenwood Pub., 2005.

Fred Enke Day pamphlet, July 12, 1980 (University of Arizona Special Collections).

Corky Simpson, “Enke in 83?: East Side golf course will be named for ex-UA coach; maybe open in 2 years,” Tucson Citizen, May 19, 1981.

Don Ketchum, “Few athletes can match ‘Firing’ Fred Enke,” The Arizona Republic, Aug. 9, 2007.

Fred W. Enke Jr. NFL Stats: http://www.nfl.com/player/fredenke/2513658/profile