By Maggie Franke
Unbeknownst to Wheaton College, junior basketball player Hannah Frazier has not been playing basketball since birth. Starting with little league soccer, Frazier played sports for fun and to make friends. Basketball didn’t come into the picture until after a growth spurt.
“Honestly around 5th or 6th grade my mom and my dad put me in a league because I was tall,” Frazier said. “So I played, and I hated it at first. I was like, ‘this is way too much running.’ They kind of made me keep going.”
After a while, Frazier said that she began to enjoy basketball as she made friends and entered into more competitive atmospheres. In high school, Frazier played basketball and volleyball until her sophomore year; then she made her choice.
“I played basketball longer,” Frazier said, “more of my friends did it and I was better at it. I liked it more. I liked that it’s more physical. There’s an intensity to basketball that’s just fun.”
Basketball became the forefront of Frazier’s identity at Batavia high school. She graduated as Batavia’s all-time leading scorer and best rebounder with 2,089 points scored and 1,029 rebounds during her four years of playing. Frazier enjoyed the team-driven atmosphere of high school basketball in-comparison to her perception of a more individualized game played during the club season. Many girls focused on getting looks from college coaches during club whereas the team’s record was the top focus during high school.
“I realized toward my sophomore year that I could get looks to play in college,” Frazier said. “Then I realized that that was going to be a big goal of mine.”
Big goals were indeed accomplished for one of the areas top female basketball recruits of her high school class when she committed to St. Louis University’s (SLU) NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball program.
“I was enamored with the idea of getting a scholarship and going Division I,” Frazier said. “That was all that mattered to me, so I remember Coach Cuthbert actually reached out to me, and I don’t think I even considered that I was going to visit because A) I had been to Wheaton so many times growing up here and B) I wanted bigger.”
However, Frazier’s Division I basketball dreams had come true, but things did not end up being dream-like at the Division I level of play.
“As a freshman, it was tough because there were only two of us,” Frazier said. “I didn’t really meet a lot of people, and the schedule was in the Atlantic Ten Conference, so we were traveling a lot and for most games, we would have to miss two to three days of class.”
In 2017, Frazier transferred to Wheaton College as a sophomore, following the footsteps of her great-grandparents, grandparents and parents (Erin Frazier ‘93 and Jeff Frazier ‘92). Her dad played football and wrestled for the Thunder, and her mom played basketball for Wheaton in the 90’s as well. Her brother, senior Noah Frazier, plays for Wheaton’s football team as a tight end.
“I was so glad that they gave me the time of day after I pretty much told them no,” Frazier said. “Then they let me come visit and transfer here.”
As a sophomore, Frazier was honored as the CCIW Newcomer of the Year, and made a considerable impact on the court for the Thunder. But there was more to Frazier’s changed experience than just the differences in her play.
“The Division I life is just so competitive and like a business,” Frazier said. “There is a huge difference in the way Coach Madsen and Cuthbert all care about the players besides just on the court.”
As a transfer, Frazier noted that she experienced overwhelmingly welcoming behavior from every member of the basketball program.
“I actually got to workout with two of the seniors Maggie Dansdill and Jen Berg and they introduced me to the team,” Frazier said. “it was really fun to come in with those freshmen because we had that bond of “we are all the newbies here.” So it was nice to be a part of both classes. Now the team is so close that all the classes mingle. It is so great. I just loved the way that this team was so open-armed.”
Basketball was Frazier’s life in high school and during her freshman year at SLU, but her experiences as a college athlete have reminded her that basketball is just a game. “Now, it’s taken the highs and lows to get back to that point where I’m playing because it’s fun and I’m with people that I love and coaches that support me,” Frazier said. “It’s not about accolades or success, and it’s not about the lows that get you down.” The Wheaton Women’s Basketball team theme to “love one another” could not be more fitting to the experience that Frazier has had in King Arena. Frazier raved about the benefits of being a basketball player at Wheaton and expressed her sincere gratitude toward her coaches and teammates for the opportunity to play for and with them.
“I like that Wheaton is perceived as a Christian school,” Frazier said. “Most of the time they do respect us when we pray at half court at the end of all our games. We have had teams that wouldn’t do it, but that’s their choice. I love that at Wheaton we are Christians first and foremost.”
Basketball might not always be a part of Frazier’s daily life in the future, but there are values learned from her time on the court that she will carry on through the rest of her life. “Even if you’re not playing in college, in high school too, the coaching and the learning to work well with others and problem solve … is hugely overlooked in terms of what it brings to your education,”
Frazier was named CCIW Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the second straight week. However, Frazier is conscious of the fact that her time on the court may be nearing its end.
“I have one more year left, and that’s kind of sad. I feel like I just started playing college basketball,” Frazier said. “I am just looking forward to making the most of this last year with my team and really enjoying Wheaton.”