Representing the Class of 1965, two-sport athlete Fred von Appen has the unique distinction of both playing and coaching at Linfield.
A four-year letterwinner for the football team, von Appen was a member of two Northwest Conference championship teams in 1961 and 1962.
After starting three games at the end of his freshman season, the offensive guard moved into the starting lineup for good as a sophomore in 1961. The Wildcats went a perfect 9-0 in the league that year, and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in program history.
Linfield defeated Whittier in the first round to earn a spot in the NAIA Championship, then known as the Camellia Bowl. The ‘Cats fell to Pittsburg State, but still made history as the first Linfield team to compete for a national title. Individually, von Appen was honored as the team’s most improved player, received first team all-conference accolades and was selected to the Little All-Coast team.
With an experienced von Appen in the lineup, the Wildcats compiled a 16-1-1 record over the 1962 and 1963 seasons. That included an 8-1 campaign and second playoff appearance during his senior year, when he served as team captain.
Over his final two seasons, von Appen was recognized as a two-time all-conference performer, AP Little All-Coast team honoree, two-time UPI Little All-Coast selection and two-time NAIA District 2 honorable mention. He also received Associated Press All-America and NAIA All-America honors as a junior.
In addition to football, Von Appen also lettered twice in track and field, specializing in the javelin, shot put and high jump.
In between his athletic pursuits, he completed a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in education, also from Linfield.
Once his Linfield athletic career ended, von Appen signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers. After being cut from the team, he returned to Linfield to embark on what would be an extensive and prolific coaching career at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.
Coaching under Paul Durham, von Appen helped lead the Wildcats to back-to-back NWC titles in 1964 and 1965, as well as an appearance in the 1965 NAIA Champion Bowl. He departed Linfield for the last time after that season, moving on to coach at the high school level for three years before stepping back up to the college ranks.
Von Appen coached at nine different Division I football programs, including a head-coaching stint at the University of Hawaii. He also served on the coaching staff for four different NFL teams, winning two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s.
Von Appen finally stepped away from coaching in 2004. He is the proud father of four grown children and currently resides in Missoula, Mont.