Southern's Hall learned by example
Frazier's brother Ben pushed through after brain tumor surgery
Hard work. It’s something every coach talks about, but something players more often learn by example.
Southern University senior first baseman Frazier Hall first began to grasp the concept of hard work watching his older brother Ben recover from brain tumor surgery a decade ago. Ben was 14 years old when a tumor was discovered in the left temporal lobe of his brain – the location that controls short-term memory.
The Hall family expected Ben to come out of brain surgery as a vegetable, sitting in wheelchair and eating from a tube for the rest of his life, not able to pursue his boyhood dreams of playing football.
“The family wouldn’t accept that so we countered that with absolute prayer and belief,” Hall said.
Miraculously, Ben was not only able to make a full recovery, but eventually went on to play football once again.
“I remember the day that we went and saw him in the hospital when he got out of surgery,” Hall said. “My dad and my brothers and I brought a football to him that day, and he took it and threw it in the air, and once that happened we knew he was going to be okay.”
However, stepping back on the field was not going to be an overnight process for Ben, who as a little boy would run up and down the yard with his John Elway jersey and Nerf football. There was going to be lots of practice and repetition and relearning skills until Ben would be ready, but the Hall family was always right by his side, especially Frazier.
“Ben had the opportunity to play football in high school, but he was having a lot of trouble learning the playbook,” Hall said. “My little brother and I would take a few hours every day with him and throw the football. Sometimes, it got really old. We would throw it up to 500 times a day, but it was for him. He needed it, and needed to come back and make a full recovery.”
The brothers attended Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, La., where Ben eventually played quarterback as a high school senior.
“I decided I wasn’t going to play my sophomore year … I was just going to help out Ben and be there for him,” Hall said. “My little brother and I went to every practice. I guess you could call us the managers. I learned everything – the playbook, the receivers’ routes and what was going on in the entire offense. We went through a lot of struggles and he’d forget a million things. He’d ask the same question 900,000 times in five minutes. I was just there to help Ben.”
“My memory was really messed up, and Frazier was always there to help me memorize certain things,” Ben said.
It was not an easy process, but Hall believes it helped shape him into the person, player and leader he is today as a star player for the Jaguars.
“I was always Ben’s little brother, but when this happened, I stepped into the role of being a first-born child,” Hall said. “I had to lead the other kids. I really took it upon myself to take care of him because I knew he would do the same for me.”
More than anything, Hall was affected by the unbelievable commitment Ben made to recover from a brain trauma, and ultimately live out his dream of playing football.
“He showed me what hard work really was,” Hall said. “I never really knew that until I saw his dedication. He fought and fought and fought. To me, it’s the greatest inspiration, and I try to share this story a lot with my teammates. It is a tool to mentor people and show people how they can push forward and go through in life.”
Southern University head coach Roger Cador has seen the senior captain push himself to be get better every year. Hall, the 2010 Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, is currently batting .425 with 53 RBI, nine home runs and a .739 slugging percentage. He leads the conference in each of those categories, and is already ahead of last year’s totals (.387, 49 RBI, 8 HR) with two weeks left in the regular season.
“Frazier has worked extremely hard to make himself a good player,” Cador said. “He made himself a lot faster, and he’s learned to pull the ball. He’s also made himself a good defensive player, and all of those things are the result of hard work.”
With Southern University being located in the Hall’s hometown of Baton Rouge, Ben rarely misses one of Hall’s games, and is one of his biggest supporters and fans.
“I take pride when I tell my friends about him,” Ben said. “He’s had a career at Southern University that’s about as good as you can get.”
In addition to his baseball talents, the Communications major is also solid in the classroom as he works towards his eventual goal of being a baseball commentator. He is also active in the community, especially as a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As a result of his accomplishments, Hall was named as one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for baseball, which is awarded to an NCAA Division I senior that has had notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
“It’s a personal triumph for him, and hopefully it shows the other young people who have watched him get better that there is value in hard work and there are rewards for working hard,” Cador said. “Our program benefits greatly from that type of player being up for that kind of award.”
Hall is Southern University’s first baseball Lowe’s Senior CLASS finalist, although it is not the first time a Jaguar has been nationally recognized. Rickie Weeks, currently the starting second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, won the Golden Spikes Award in 2003 after batting .479 with 16 homers and 66 RBI.
Southern University leads the SWAC Western Division with a 15-6 mark heading into the final weekend of conference action. The Jaguars will host Texas Southern for a three-game series on May 7-8.