James L. Frazier, an assistant strength coach for University of Iowa football, will become the director of Harvard’s strength and conditioning program, Athletic Director Robert L. Scalise announced yesterday.
Frazier, a 2006 graduate of Brown University, will fill a month-long vacancy created by the departure of former head strength coach Craig Fitzgerald for the University of South Carolina. The former Brown defensive end and linebacker will begin overseeing all 41 Crimson varsity programs on March 2.
Frazier’s hiring comes at an opportune time for the Crimson. Fitzgerald’s January departure was followed closely by assistant strength director Daniel Perlmutter’s decision to take a position at Duke, leaving assistant director Timothy Mullen, coaching assistant Shauna Forsyth, and two full-time interns with the daunting task of providing equal attention to every squad without an administrative head.
“I’m definitely looking forward to [working at Harvard],” Frazier said. “As somebody that graduated from an Ivy League school, I know what [the athletes] are going through mentally and physically...I’m coming into a blessed situation by joining a pretty experienced staff.”
Frazier has shown versatility to this point in his career, interning with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls prior to his two years with Iowa’s football staff. In a short stint training the Hawkeyes, the two-time All-Ivy selection left a notable impression.
“[Frazier] is very progressive and very intelligent,” fellow Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle said. “I think he takes a comprehensive approach to training the athlete...[He] is a great get for Harvard.”
Frazier was a highly recruited high school athlete when he decided to attend Brown, said Bears’ defensive coordinator Michael Kelleher, who coached Frazier throughout much of his collegiate career.
Frazier was captain of the team and a four-year letterman, leading Brown to an Ivy League title in 2005. In college, he showed the makings of someone who would make his living from athletics, Kelleher said.
“I always thought he would be a great coach,” Kelleher said. “He loved all the behind-the-scenes aspects of football.”
Frazier—who earned his degree from Brown three years ago—refused to state his age in an interview with The Crimson.
“As far as the age and that kind of stuff, it is neither here nor there,” he said. “It’s about what you bring to the table—the knowledge and background you have.”
Kelleher supported his former player’s leadership ability, citing his maturity despite his youth.
The newly hired coach’s tender age will create an interesting dynamic in the weight room next year. Current Harvard football captain Carl D. Ehrlich ’09-’10 and a few other players were on Harvard’s team at the same time Frazier was playing for Brown, Ehrlich said.
But Ehrlich added that he thought his new coach’s age would be a boon.
“I think it will be good to have a young strength coach who is hungry to learn,” he said.
“We are pleased to welcome James to our community,” said Scalise in a Harvard Athletic Communications announcement. “Our strength and conditioning staff is known for its high energy and James is no exception.”
Although he is only a few years removed from competing on Saturdays, Frazier’s allegiances have changed now, he said.
“When it’s all said and done, I’m with Harvard,” Frazier said. “I’m for Harvard. I want to train them to beat Brown the best way I can,”
His old coach Kelleher saw it the same way.
“He is the enemy now,” he said.
—Staff writer Max N. Brondfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at email@example.com.