Major leaguer visits Northview
By By Janet Little Cooper Special to the Advance
Northview High School was host to a 'field of dreams' Saturday during its 2nd Annual Baseball Clinic in Bratt. Fifty-two children from the panhandle area ranging in ages from eight to fourteen were given hands on experience in the fundamentals of baseball. The Chief's junior varsity and varsity baseball teams led in the six – hour clinic that demonstrated throwing, fielding, hitting and pitching.
The Northview Diamond Club, an organization created two years ago to support the Chief's baseball team, sponsored the clinic in its second year. The group consists of parents and supporters of the team. "The primary reason for the clinic is for community service – a chance for our boys to give back to their community. It also gives us a chance to show the community what we are doing and our facilities. The clinic is also a fundraising event for the Diamond Club." said Northview baseball coach Chris Poulsen.
This year's event was different in that former third baseman for the Cleveland Indians, Travis Fryman was on hand to assist the Chiefs. Fryman rotated to each clinic station offering one-on-one instruction and advice to the participants. Fryman, a Tate High School graduate, captivated the group's attention in specific talks and demonstrations of fielding and hitting. During the day's lunch break, instead of eating, Travis posed for pictures with children and then sat alongside the Chiefs in their home dugout talking ball. Many high school teams could only dream of such. "Everything you do says something about you. Do it well." Fryman said. Chief's head coach, Chris Poulsen commented about Fryman's participation Saturday by saying, " For someone to play at the level he has and to stay as humble an approachable as he is says a lot about his character."
Fryman who retired two years ago from the Cleveland Indians, enjoyed one of his greatest times in 2000 setting career highs with a .321 batting average, 38 doubles and 106 RBI while launching 22 home runs. He also won his first Gold Glove award for his defensive work at third base. Travis, a four- time all star played fourteen years in professional ball. He now lives in Molino with his wife, Kathleen and three young sons. Fryman is keeping himself busy by doing public speaking engagements, clinics and appearances. He has traded in spring training fields for the t-ball and Little League fields his boys participate in. He is an avid bow hunter and fisherman as well. Fryman and his family are active members of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola where he serves as a deacon. When asked about his plans, Fryman said, " To be a full-time father and husband and see where God leads." He quickly added, "There's no point in going any further than that."
Northview baseball is entering its second season with head coach Chris Poulsen. A graduate of Ernest Ward High School, Poulsen holds the number one record at UWF in Pensacola in RBI's at 64. Chris hit .434 in his senior year at UWF leading him into the Atlanta Braves Minor League Organization. He played for two years with them as a catcher. After his release, he played for two more years with an independent league in Ohio where he worked as a catcher and pitching coach. He returned to Pensacola after leaving Ohio on his own terms.
It was during Chris' minor league days that he met Travis Fryman and a friendship was born. They first met at the Fred Waters Clinic in Pensacola in January 1999. Travis began coordinating practices for Chris and other major and minor league guys each year before spring training. "Our friendship grew and it became a tradition for us to train together," said Poulsen. Poulsen and his wife, Ann were guest at Fryman's retirement party two years ago. "Chris made a favorable impression on me in a short period of time. We shared the same upbringing and the same values and he earned my respect," commented Fryman. The friendship between these two was evident on the field Saturday as they embraced and worked together to benefit the clinic participants. "Northview is very fortunate to have Chris as their coach," said Fryman. "I have three sons and would love to have someone of his caliber coaching my boys," he added.
Northview won its first district game against Pensacola Christian Friday night.