“Grandma” Frerichs Cares For Players

Organist Don Frerichs doesn’t have to drag his wife to games. His wife, Carol, greets every player twice per game.

“I high-five them onto the ice and hug them off of the ice, win, lose or draw,” she said. Many players call her Grandma. “[Don] didn’t want them calling me Carol, and I didn’t want them to call me Mrs. Frerichs,” she said. Because the Frerichs’ children were adults before the players were born, she became Grandma.

She began hugging the players post-game in the mid-’90s after a one-goal loss in Brooklyn. Parents chastised their children post-game for losing even though “they played their hearts out,” Carol said in an interview in Thornton’s lobby.

 “They didn’t go out there and lose the game. They went and got outplayed by one goal,” she said. “It’s not my job to tell them about it or be nitpicky about it. I just want to support them. And I have no idea how the high-fiving started. It just did.”

As the team stepped onto the bus that night, she hugged every player. She hasn’t stopped since. “When the kids work hard, they deserve a little bit more than grousing by the parents,” Don said.

Hockey players, it must be noted, smell very bad. “I threaten to bring a Febreeze bottle,” said Carol, who actually does not smell bad after hugging the team. Senior center Tyler Straffon doesn’t feel guilty for being sweaty. “She’s used to it by now,” he said. 

After bad games, some players won’t want a hug. “Once in a while after a game, they’ll walk by me and not hug me. But sometimes they’ll come out of the locker room [afterwards] and ask me for a hug,” she said.

Head coach Michael Bartley said he hugs her rarely. He said, “If the situation arises, and it’s a huggable moment, we go for it.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 8 February 2012, on page 15 of The Shakerite.

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