By Melina Nath, Staff Writer
// Whether he is volunteering, mentoring a local Scouts troop, or on the field coaching Acalanes High School athletes, longtime Lafayette resident Bill Fraser prioritizes giving back to the community every day.
The Lafayette Chamber of Commerce recognized Fraser in February as Co-Citizen of the Year for his dedication to and continuous mentorship of young people in the community.
Fraser moved to Lafayette when he was in seventh grade and attended Stanley Middle School. He continued on to attend Acalanes High School, graduated in 1975, and attended University of California, Davis. After college, he moved to New Mexico in 1981 for his job, where he discovered his love for coaching and volunteer work.
“I was living in New Mexico when I was 23 years old, and I had some extra time on my hands, so when I heard from a friend that they needed some coaches in a soccer league, I volunteered to be an assistant coach,” Fraser said. “Over the course of the next seven weeks, they went from rags to riches, and they ended up beating the undefeated team to win the league. They were jumping up and down in that final game. [Coaching is] just part of my DNA after that experience.”
Fraser returned to Lafayette with his family in 2001, bringing his expertise to local programs. Fraser became the assistant coach for the Acalanes boys’ lacrosse team for three years. In 2014, Fraser stepped into coaching the Acalanes girls’ lacrosse team when the girls’ lacrosse program no longer had a coach.
“By the year, there are so many more [opportunities] in sports. There [are] so many more opportunities, particularly for girls, than there were when I was a kid at Acalanes, and so that requires more volunteers to step in and help lead or coach,” Fraser said.
He coached junior varsity (JV) girls’ lacrosse for six years and is currently in his third season as the varsity head coach. Players recognize Fraser’s positive impact both within and beyond their lacrosse careers.
“[Fraser] is probably the best coach I have ever had. He cares so much about every single one of his players. He is supportive, caring, and most importantly, encouraging. I’ve been lucky enough to have him as my coach for all four years,” varsity lacrosse player and senior Avery Bahl said. “I do see Bill as a mentor. He is always giving advice and lessons outside of lacrosse. He cares about the well-being of everyone on the team, and I know that after I graduate, he will be someone I keep in touch with.”
In addition to his involvement with the Acalanes lacrosse program, Fraser also joined the Acalanes football staff in 2016 and currently coaches the JV team. Players admire his dedication to the team and see him as a role model.
“When in practice with him, everyone knew he cared and would do anything he could for us to succeed. I also admire his willingness to get to know us, not only as a player but as a friend,” JV football player and sophomore Aiden Yates said. “Having Coach Fraser coach me my JV year of football made me realize how important a coach can be in someone’s life and the type of influence that person can have on a player … [He] really changed my love for the game of football.”
Outside of Acalanes, Fraser frequently volunteers in the Lamorinda community. He works closely with local Scout Troop 204. He also ran Moraga, Orinda, Lafayette Flag Football for 15 years and helped with Lafayette Little League, a local youth baseball program.
“These [opportunities] all contribute to an incredible environment for young people to grow up [in] … There are so many different types of opportunities for young people to explore, and if they want to dedicate themselves, [they can] thrive,” Fraser said.
Regardless of his accomplishments, the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce naming him citizen of the year amazed him.
“It was a complete surprise when I got a phone call. I thought someone was calling me for a different reason … I’ve never given any thought to anything like that. I would never have considered something like that [to] come my way,” Fraser said.
During the Honorary Citizen of the Year dinner hosted by the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce on March 25, Fraser emphasized the importance of connecting with the community in his speech.
“What [Lafayette] really means to me through 20 years plus now is community … Most people have no idea the quality of so many people who live in Lafayette … Lafayette means a lot to me,” Fraser said.
Fraser will continue to volunteer diligently and be a mentor to the students with whom he works.
“I cannot think of anyone else who is more qualified to receive this honor more than Bill Fraser. I know he would do anything for others no matter who they are or what their story is. He is the most selfless and giving person I know, and I think everyone else that knows him would agree he deserves this award,” Bahl said.