Sports Hall of FameApr 1st, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: Top Story
The St. Bernard Parish Sports Hall of Fame recently inducted its 2011 honorees, taking time to praise the outstanding local athletes for a lifetime of achievement in sports and the careers that started right here is St. Bernard.
And now stepping onto the field…
Samuel Frichter, Jr. played baseball for Chalmette High, then later for University of Southern Mississippi. Frichter is known as a successful athlete but even more so as a successful coach.
Born at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Samuel Frichter Jr. lived the first six years of his life at his grandmother’s house on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter. His family then moved to Arabi. Later he attended Chalmette High School, graduating in 1967 as part of the first all male graduating class.
After high school, Frichter went on to play third base at the University of Southern Mississippi. He started for the Eagles his sophomore, junior and senior years, and was also the team’s leading hitter his sophomore and senior years.
After graduating from Southern Mississippi, Frichter went on to coach. His first post was at Wallace Community College in Dothan, AL. He had three job offers to choose from: one in Texas, another in Florida, and the one in Alabama, “I chose close to home,” he said. One of the reasons to stay close, aside from the fishing, he said was because “I’m a Saints fan.”
In that first year at Wallace, Frichter signed eight players, two of whom were from St. Bernard Parish.
“I wanted quality people,” Frichter said. “So I went to the Parish.” And over the years he brought many in from the St. Bernard.
“I was pretty tough on them,” Frichter said. “I had to prepare them for the real world out there.”
“Some of them didn’t like it,” he confessed, as many of Frichter’s policies went beyond the field. He insisted that his players wear shirts and ties to class, trying to instill a sense of respect for others that would extend to the game itself.
“Some of these kids don’t know respect,” he said about some of today’s players. “Respect for baseball, parents, teachers.”
But the enthusiasm and sense of honor Frichter passed on in his coaching lead to great things for his players. Some of those he coached went on to lead their own teams. Two of Frichter’s players, Kenny Dupont and David Russo, are now coaches themselves. Dupont is at Holmes Community College and Russo at Jeff State Community College.
And they are not alone. Frichter boasts that seven or eight of his players are currently head coaches at junior colleges, and three he knows of are Division-1 coaches.
Now Coach Samuel Frichter Jr. is passing his knowledge on to baseball’s next generation of stars. In Alabama, where he still resides, Frichter coaches the Wiregrass Cardinals, a team that he started in 2004. The Cardinals get their namesake from the professional team, who had a farm team that played in Alabama some time ago.
“A little nostalgia for the area,” Frichter said. “Because people remember that.”
Coach Frichter has taken his Cardinals to the state championship several times, and they won the title in 2007. But as a coach, Frichter has seen many champion teams. At Wallace Community College, he took the baseball program to the championship six times in the 80’s, winning it in 1980, 83, 87 and 89. This was after their run of seven in a row in the 1970’s. Then he brought his American Legion post-12 year-old team to the championship, and the Wiregrass Cardinals as well. And, Coach Frichter says, if he’d been hired in St. Bernard, that team would have won state too.
Frichter had some advice for all the student athletes out there who are deciding which sport would be the best use of their talents.
“There is more opportunity for kids that play baseball,” the coach says, as far as the number of scholarships compared to sports like basketball or football.
The Highest Achievement
The St. Bernard Parish Sports Hall of Fame also honored Mr. Paul Peak for his outstanding coaching abilities.
“I had a fun career,” Peak said of his three decades as a Division-2 basketball coach. “I enjoyed the kids, seeing them going as far as they could.”
But before he was coach, Peak was a player at Chalmette High. He was active in both the basketball and baseball programs at the high school. In basketball, he was a starting forward. And on the baseball team, Peak had a batting average over .500 and was an All-American player who helped his team earn a championship.
When he went to college for his undergraduate degree, Peak played baseball for only one year, but worked in three years of basketball. He started all three years, and was named team-captain for two. Toward the end of his senior year Peak thought, “My world was ending,” because athletics were about to be over, maybe for life.
That may have been true, if he had not gotten his first job coaching. In the second year of his studies at Michigan State, earning a master’s degree, Peak received a coaching spot for the Dansville High School basketball team. Once Peak graduated, he went back to his college as Coach Peak, then on to Southern California College, and later Texas A&M-Commerce.
In 30 seasons as a Division-II NCAA basketball coach, Peak garnered a record boasting 510 wins. This includes the 134 wins he earned in nine seasons as the head coach of the men’s basketball program at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Peak attributes the success of his teams to hard work and a hard schedule. He set it so his teams “always played the toughest schedule we could to be ready for playoffs.” And that level of play lead some of his players past college and into the NBA, to teams such as the Seattle Supersonics, the New York Knicks, and the Utah Jazz.
Peak stepped down as head coach of the A&M-Commerce team in 2000 as one of the most celebrated coaches in the division. He continued his duties as athletic director until he retired from the position in 2005.
Looking back on the Hall of Fame ceremony, Peak said the event was “really well run” and it made for “great memories,” but his favorite part was being able to come back home to St. Bernard.
And for anyone who would look to add coach to the front of his or her name in the future, Peak had this to say. “Work the summer camps, go to state associations, and look for opportunities.” Make the contacts now, he said. It takes more than just passion to get one of these positions. Peak’s job at Southern California came out of a faculty recommendation. And that faculty member was someone introduced to Peak while he was still earning his master’s degree years earlier. So don’t burn bridges, according to Peak, one can never tell when it will be who you know that makes the difference.
Getting there, fast.
Jeff Sanchez was the final inductee, honored for his outstanding achievement in football at the local and professional levels, both nationally and internationally.
Born in New Orleans, Sanchez was raised in Violet. In his teen years, he attended Archbishop Hannan High School. Sanchez had gone to the school for their basketball program and was not even considering football.
“Basketball was the reason I went to the school,” Sanchez said. However, “When I got to the school, I found I had a knack for running the ball.” And while he did play basketball and run track, the football field is where Sanchez found his future.
Sanchez’s football career continued after high school at Tulane University. Though he had been committed to Clemson University in South Carolina, two days before he was to leave, Sanchez decided to stay home and play local.
At Tulane, Sanchez played two years as running back and was mainly on the offensive side of the line. Later on, coaches threw him into the fray of defense, where he played some cornerback for the Green Wave. And the coaches really brought something out of Sanchez, because in 2002, Tulane had the best pass coverage in the country. Out of this, an opportunity appeared.
After his senior year at Tulane, Sanchez was listed as one of Tulane’s key losses for their 2003 season. His defensive prowess earned him a position on the Dallas Cowboys. He played as a defensive back for six games, remaining with the team through their 2003-2004 seasons. Later, Sanchez was traded to the Detroit Lions, before he went on to Europe, playing as part of the Amsterdam Admirals in the NFL’s European league, and making the NFL All Europe Team twice. The popularity of the NFL players in the European division was welcome to Sanchez, who appreciated the opportunity to travel the world, playing the game he loves.
“We were kind of like celebrities over there,” said Sanchez.
After his two years in Amsterdam, Sanchez joined the Tampa Bay Storm, an arena football program, where he shared the field with a former Tulane teammate, Lynaris Elpheage. Soon after, Sanchez moved on to Canada, playing for the Toronto Argonauts before coming back to Louisiana.
Now Sanchez is back in Violet and lives with his fiancé and 6-year-old son. He is in talks now with sponsors to begin an annual summer camp for both younger children, to teach the fundamentals of the game, as well as a division for high school players planning on playing in college or professionally. The camp is slated to start this June.
“I was never big. I was never fast,” said Sanchez. But learned over the years that a person has to bring talents out of themselves. That is why Sanchez says he is starting these camps. “Not to tell them when they can’t do something,” which he said is the tragedy of some coaches now. They fail to motivate these young athletes and help them aspire to a future greater than they imagined.
“I want to be the guy to bring it out,” he said.