STRATTANVILLE, Pa. – When it comes to Clarion-Limestone athletics there has been one central figure that you are sure to see at almost any event over the last 20 years, and he was originally a Clarion Bobcat.
(Cover photo by George Powers. View more of Powers’ work here.)
Brad Frazier is the only baseball manager the school has ever known. But Frazier has been so much more than just a baseball coach over the years at C-L. He has spent the last two years as the girls’ basketball coach, and can be seen at nearly all the school’s athletic events that he isn’t coaching in doing whatever is needed. From running the clock, to game management to the No. 1 cheerleader.
“It’s just a way of giving back to the community,” Frazier said. “It’s a way of helping out other coaches, a way of just being there for our school district. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s one of those things I look back on and there are absolutely no regrets on giving my time and effort to any part of our school with our sports program.”
Frazier, a fifth-grade teacher at C-L, wasn’t always a Lion.
A 1988 graduate of Clarion Area High School and a 1992 graduate of Clarion University before a brief career as a professional baseball player, Frazier turned in his black and orange for blue and gold in 1998.
“At the beginning, it was definitely strange,” Frazier recalled. “You have to go through the teasing part of people asking you if you are still a Bobcat and questions like that. But I will be starting my 20th year here, so it has pretty much gone away.”
Soon after Frazier started teaching at C-L, the school decided it wanted to start a baseball program with the first season being 1999.
“I actually started coaching baseball my second year of teaching,” Frazier said. “They decided they wanted to start a baseball program, and I was picked to be the high school baseball coach. That’s how it started for me.”
Frazier appeared to be a natural fit to be the baseball coach of the fledgling program. After all, he was drafted in the 40th round of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft by the expansion Florida Marlins after a sensational career at Clarion University that landed him in the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. Frazier, a lefthanded pitcher, pitched two years for the Marlins and one year of independent league ball before injuries derailed his professional career.
“Coaching was another dream of mine when I was all done with my own playing career,” Frazier said. “I knew I wanted to get into coaching at some point. I was hoping my playing career would have lasted a little bit longer, but it was an opportunity to get into coaching at that point.”
Frazier’s C-L teams had nearly instant success.
The Lions were District 9 Class A runner-ups in 2001 and then won three straight titles from 2002 to 2004 before finishing as the runner-ups again in 2005. The run of five straight title-game appearances has only been matched by Elk County Catholic (2010-14) in Class A since District started playing Class A title games in 1979.
“I give all the credit to the kids,” Frazier said. “They are the reason we won all those games in those championship seasons.”
C-L hasn’t been able to make it back to the title game since falling in 2005 to ECC, but the Lions have continued to field competitive teams over the last decade.
“It’s up and down all the time at small school,” Frazier said. “We were very fortunate to make a nice run there. I had an outstanding group of kids.”
Frazier credits three of his own coaches with making him the coach he is today.
“My pitching coach my first year of pro ball was Marty DeMerritt (DeMerritt was the Chicago Cubs pitching coach in 1999),” He was so intense and paid so much attention to details. I would have to give him a lot of credit. But it would also go back to my college day as well. Barry McCauliff was instrumental on a lot of stuff that I even use today for my own kids, and Rich Herman as well. I want to give them credit, too. They were two outstanding coaches.”
Frazier was quick to point out that he couldn’t do what he does at C-L without the help of his longtime assistant coach, Wally Simpson.
“Wally has been very important for our program and for me,” Frazier said. “He has been my right-hand man for a very long time. He does a lot with the field. He does a lot with our hitters and things. I couldn’t do it without him. He’s been committed to the program for a long time. I have the utmost respect for Wally.”
In addition to coaching baseball, Frazier spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the head girls’ basketball coach stepping up to take the position when no one else wanted it even though he would be the first to admit basketball wasn’t his forte.
“The biggest thing for me was no one applied for the job,” Frazier said. “Doug Rodgers (the former coach and the high school principal) asked me a minimum of 10 times if I would do it. We still joke about it to this day how many times he asked me to do the program. I didn’t want the girls to go a season without a coach. I knew somebody would eventually step up (Gus Simpson is taking over the program for the 2016-17 season). But I felt at the time it had to be me. I needed to get the summer program involved and try to get those girls a chance to play baseball. I played in high school, but it wasn’t my forte. But again, the competitor in me and wanting them to have that kind of team, that is why I did it.”
Frazier said his advice to anyone interested in coaching would be pretty simple.
“You have to have patience,” Frazier said. “You have to build your program. Just be patient with the kids. Just be patient with the budget cuts and different things that go on. It’s tough at times. But ultimately, as long as you are patient, you will be able to work through those ups and downs and build a nice program for yourself.”