Who says you have to be an athlete to help a team move forward?
Sure, as Davis High’s football squad went from one win per season to five over the past three years, there were 100-yard rushing performances and 10-tackle games galore.
But on Tuesday afternoons, there was another coach — a classmate of these Blue Devils — helping elevate his peers in the classroom, providing little victories that didn’t show up in the standings.
Sean Fraser, who last month graduated from DHS, spent a lot of time over the past two years tutoring anyone who needed to raise their proficiency in math or science.
Now, Fraser is about to spend his life helping others. It’s just who he is.
Fraser took some time this week chat with me about what his summer holds, where he’s headed and the importance of mentoring.
“I’ve been raised to want to help people,” the son of Eleanor Lo and Dave Fraser explains. “My mom and dad are very helpful people. I’ve been a Boy Scout or Cub Scout since I was 9 … and that program encourages you to help people.
“Guess I’ve just been raised in (that kind) of environment.”
Fraser, who is headed for UC Santa Barbara to study medicine (Lo is a geriatrician), is almost embarrassed by the attention he’s gotten from folks like former Devil football coach Steve Smyte and tutoring coordinator Pat Quinlan.
“He was a very reliable kid,” Smyte told me. “Extremely responsible and our program benefited from having him. The football guys were kinda hesitant to accept help from peers. But over time, (the results) of him being there were clear.”
When Smyte took over the program in 2010, the team grade-point average was 2.2 and DHS had just lost several players to poor grades.
Smyte, with Quinlan taking a lead position, promised to do something about that.
“We knew this had to change. We set a plan that included mandatory study hall for all players in season and for players with less than a 3.0 grade-point average out of season,” Smyte reports.
With Fraser recruited by Quinlan — and other members of the Math and Science Tutor Club (MAST) bobbing in and out of the program — the 2012 Blue Devil football team carried a 3.3 overall GPA. Four of the six players with less than a 2.2 three years ago, according to Smyte, were over 3.0 at last grade check.
“MAST is a great bunch of kids who volunteer their time at lunch to tutor fellow students,” said Quinlan, an airline pilot and former volunteer coach for the Devils. “The club president, Jacob Rutheiser, (did) a great job … helping get tutors for us until Sean became a fixture.”
Beyond volunteering at noon, Fraser worked with the players in the afternoons and was available via phone if those he was helping needed quick direction.
“I enjoyed working with football (team),” Fraser added.
He liked the fact that the coaches closely monitored the players’ academics and that they set firm appointments with Fraser with a set work program. Fraser thinks the school needs to do a better job promoting the student-offered tutoring service.
“We’d go in at lunchtime (as tutors) and sit there for 45 minutes,” Fraser remembers. “If you’re lucky, someone would come in as for help. More people to need to know about it. More people need to take advantage of the offer.”
Fraser, who wants to follow in his mom’s footsteps as a doctor, carried a 4.2 GPA. When it comes to math and science, he knows his stuff. But there were many other tutors available for foreign languages, English and other subjects. It’s Fraser’s perspective that those allies were terribly unused.
So what’s ahead for Fraser?
In another year, the 17-year-old will age out of Scouting. Before leaving, he’s raising funds to help in his pursuit of Eagle Scout status through local Troop 139. He also wants to take full advantage of “resting a little” this summer before he’s off to UCSB.
“That’s one thing about high school … it’s all laid out for you. In college, you have to make your own decisions about attending class, doing your work,” Fraser says. “It’s going to be different.”
A hiking and camping enthusiast, the pre-med student wanted to stay in California. He is excited about the change of scenery but is happy he’ll stay close enough to family. His half-brother Ian lives in the Southland, too.
So, does Sean have advice for those Blue Devils who remain on campus next year?
“Talk to your teachers,” he says. “Knowing about what to expect in a class will always help. Plus, having a good relationship with your teacher can’t hurt …
“If you want to help someone, volunteer for an organization,” Fraser added. “Once you’re in something like MAST, you’ll understand how rewarding volunteering can be. Then you can make your own decisions about how to help someone without having to be part of a group.
“It’s a good feeling. Whenever I help somebody, I leave that situation feeling good about myself and that that person will go on (prepared) from there.”
While I Have You Here: Lo and Dave Fraser are also the parents of Dylan, 10, and Willie, 11. Ian and Angela are grown half-siblings of Sean’s. Dave is a retired instructor, formerly with the UC Davis School of Medicine, and has a continuing interest in agriculture and botany.
Through Scouting, Sean has become a dancer in the Order of the Arrow, a Native American community service group.
While Fraser says he has no tribal blood, he knows he has Native American legacy in his heart. As a member of the Tito-Wa Chapter of the Order of the Arrow, Fraser is a participant in many area cultural demonstrations.
He even makes his own costumes.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.