February 26, 2015

Frasier blossoms for Red Dragons

Sports Editor

The immediate future is a lot more clearer these days for Rae Frasier.
That wasn’t always the case for this collegiate basketball rarity, Frasier being an older than normal 27-year-old who has spent this season playing her way into the starting lineup for a talented SUNY Cortland women’s squad that has captured 20 wins heading into the conference playoffs.
So now the senior forward wants wants to cut down the nets Saturday as a SUNY Athletic Conference playoff champion, get a physical education degree from Cortland before pursuing her Masters and eventually return to her old Schenectady High School stomping grounds to try make a difference with the kids there.
“I could contribute more, especially given my story,” said Frasier, hoping she can eventually return to her alma mater as a coach and teacher.
“The youth there, there’s a lot of poverty and a lot of crime, So I feel like I have something to give back to inspire them and coach them and let them know there are other ways to live. You can be successful and you don’t have to be a knucklehead,” she adds.
Frasier’s story is a good one, for sure.
She only played a little bit of high school basketball before graduating in 2006, though she could always be found on the courts at Central Park and Jerry Burrell Park in Schenectady. “I played a lot of blacktop ball with the boys. That’s the story of my life, always in the park with the boys. I never played a lot of organized ball,” she says.
Thriving in a culinary arts program in high school convinced her bcoming a cook was the route to take, but after taking similar courses at Schenectady Community College Frasier changed her mind and left after one semester.
She then spent the next few years working in a Honeywell International warehouse for good money without much of a social life. “I was the only female who drove the forklift and things like that. I was pretty good at it, better than most of the guys,” she recalls.
But that work load took a toll and she finally realized basketball was her true passion, which made Hudson Valley CC the next chapter in this Frasier saga. She tried out for the team and then led the nation in rebounding in the 2012-13 season,
That’s when Cortland head coach Jeannette Mosher first heard about this six-foot pogo-stick of a player with “freakishly raw talent” from a coaching colleague. It also helped that Frasier’s coach at Mohawk Valley, Colleen Ferris, was a Cortland grad.
GETTING THE MOST out of that raw talent was the Mosher task, a process in which plenty of patience has finally paid off.
Heading into Friday’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal playoff game against New Paltz to get the conference Final Four being hosted by Geneseo underway, Frasier is averaging 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the second seeded and 20-5 Red Dragons.
In a reserve role, she had some early eye-opener outings like 22 points and 11 rebounds in a December win over Buffalo State and 19 points and 10 rebounds against Potsdam. Coach Mosher made Frasier a starter eight games ago and has been rewarded, like the 21-point and 11-rebound Frasier showing in that first start as Cortland topped Brockport.
This was not the same player who had trouble simply remembering plays a season ago in her first Cortland campaign, when basic basketball terminology sometimes sounded like a foreign language, when she couldn’t understand why Coach Mosher was insisting Frasier was traveling a whole lot while trying to figure out the intricacies of the pivot foot.
“I remember thinking that first time, oh my gosh, I don’t know if she’s ever going to be able to do it with the footwork and all that,” was Mosher’s first impression of early practices with Frasier. “To see where she is now, starting and being Player of the Week in the conference, that is just incredible.”
Being older certainly helped Frasier get through a trying first season in Cortland.
“Part of that is her personality, but also that’s where you find her age and maturity come into play,” said Mosher. “I don’t know if a 20-year-old or a 21-year -old would have stuck it out this long without seeing instant playing time or minutes.”
“I knew I had my work cut out for me. I knew after that first week of practice that wow, I’m really going to have to buckle down and work hard and be a sponge and really learn as much as I can in a short period of time,” said Frasier. “It took a little longer than I would have liked. I still had the goal of starting and being on the floor a lot more that year, but like coach said I had a lot more to learn then I thought I did.”
FRASIER HAS ALSO fit in with her younger teammates, though she lives off campus with a 25-year-old roommate. Sometimes she gets called a grandma because “My knees are super old and I need to take an ice bag after every practice to make sure they’re working the next day.”
She is one of six seniors on this squad, but will be celebrating her 28th birthday on April 15.
“That was a thing I was worried about, how I would fit in and be accepted, but they accepted me with open arms,” said Frasier of her younger teammates. “We get along great. Sometimes I’m a little bit more quieter, because with the age range they talk about things that I’ve already been through.”
Coach Mosher had to change her ways of thinking, too, to live with Frasier mistakes and get her on the court — where she now plays along side conference scoring leader and fellow six-footer Brittney Dumas.“Sometimes I can get really conservative. There has to be a fine line, too, where you just let them play,” said Mosher. “Maybe more so last year, I was a little bit afraid to do that. But then as she was getting better as a player I had to make sure that, hey, there’s a time where you just let her play a little bit.”
That has worked out.
“You look at it, she’s doing a lot more things well than those few mistakes, especially this year without a doubt,” said Mosher.
Being the middle of five kids raised by a single mother, having those playground basketball sessions and taking this bumpy post high school road to Cortland have fueled Frasier’s competitive nature and desire to get better.
“I’m super competitive. One thing I hate most in life is losing, even in pick-up games. Just ask my teammates. I’m the most obnoxious,” admitted Frasier. “It’s absolutely fun for me, I love winning. It’s amazing to have a winning season and have as much success as we’ve had and to know I contributed to that success. It’s a great feeling and I just want to continue it.”

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