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Family First for Frerichs

Photo Courtesy of WNY Football Weekly

There’s a long list of accomplishments Steven Frerichs can boast about from his time as a student-athlete at Wilson High School.

He was a standout three-sport athlete playing football, basketball and baseball for the Lakemen, earning numerous honors for each. He graduated top-10 in his class, was a member of the National Honor Society and even found time to volunteer in the community.

But at the annual Thomas E. Hewitt Sports Award Dinner this past spring, where scholarships were given to graduating student-athletes from Niagara County high schools, most of the pictures that made up Frerichs’ slideshow weren’t taken on the football field, the basketball court or even at school.

Instead, it included pictures that were taken at home, with his family.

“There might have been two athletic pictures, but most were with family,” Wilson football coach Bill Atlas said. “He’s a family guy first.”

Frerichs, who will be suiting up for the North squad in the 44th annual Kensington Lions All-Star Classic on Wednesday, wasn’t going to have it any other way.

“Family is very important because those are the people who truly care about you at the end of the day,” he said.

“I think athletics is great and I’ve been fortunate to do well and stay healthy but I am who I am because of my family. Athletic pictures only say a little bit about you, really it’s about how well-rounded you are and that starts with your family.”

The slideshow was fitting because it’s been his family that made Frerichs into the man he is today and the great three-sport athlete that the Wilson Lakemen have counted on the past couple of years.

From a young age, Frerichs worked on his family’s organic beef farm. It was there he learned the meaning of hard work and results.

“Working on a farm is a humbling experience,” Frerichs says. “You can work really hard and not always get ahead. You just always have to keep working because stuff will come to you sooner or later if you’re doing things right.”

Besides the humility, the farm also made Frerichs into one of the strongest and physically imposing players on his team, despite his 5′ 9″ stature.

His family is also responsible for his extraordinary leadership skills. The oldest of five kids is a parent’s dream, often helping with work around the house.

“One of my favorite stories that someone told me a long time ago is that one random night years ago both Frerichs’ parents came home late, and I’m assuming as a parent myself they probably weren’t excited about dealing with the five children they have, make dinner, make sure homework was done and everything,” Atlas explains. “And when they got home everything was finished. Steven had taken it upon himself to make sure dinner was made, homework was done and had washed the kids up. It encompasses him putting others above himself.”

Frerichs says there have been several nights his parents have come home late and he’s had to do extra chores. However, he wouldn’t take full credit for getting everything done, acknowledging that his younger sister, Anna, 17, helps out quite a bit.

His parents stressed the value of hard work in the classroom as well, with Frerichs earning a 96.70 weighted average.

Frerichs’ mind was a trait that Atlas noticed early on saying that as a freshman and sophomore, he helped new coaches get up to speed with the playbook.

By his senior year, Frerichs was given the freedom to audible out of any play on first and second down as long as he could give Atlas a good reason why.

“I would say anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of his touchdowns were audibles,” Atlas said. “I told him ‘as long as you can come off the field and give me an answer, you can call an audible any time you want.'”

There was always an answer.

In 23 games under center, he threw for 3,585 yards and 41 TDs while running for 809 yards and 15 scores. Frerichs was also big on the other side of the ball with 102 total tackles in two seasons.

He led the Lakemen football team to back-to-back appearances in the Class C semifinals, falling to Southwestern by a single point both times. The Trojans also ended his senior basketball season, with the game coming down to the last possession.

Frerichs’ accomplishments on the field, along with his grades, earned him the opportunity to play football at SUNY Morrisville, where he plans to study renewable energy. He’s also strongly considering following in his father’s footsteps and going into law enforcement.

“I feel renewable energy is something that will be big in the future,” Frerichs said. “It’s outdoors. I like being outdoors. I like hunting and the environment. I can also bring it home to the farm too.”

In 25+ years of coaching, Atlas has never had a player quite like Frerichs suit up for him.

“He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Atlas said. “He’s a great athlete, a better student and even better kid.”

Each player participating Wednesday night will get an individual introduction before the game.

It will be an opportunity, after years of putting his teammates, family and others before himself, for Frerichs to take the spotlight.

The Kensington Lions All-Star Classic will be played on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Williamsville South High School. WNY Athletics will broadcast the game live, beginning with a pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.

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