A case could be made that no one loved Sprayberry football more than Jim Frazier, the former Yellow Jackets assistant coach for whom the school's stadium is named after.
Frazier first arrived on campus in 1959 -- when the school was still based at the corner of Cobb Parkway and Allgood Road, where the Walker School is now -- and he coached football and baseball before retiring in 1986.
Even after retirement, Frazier remained a constant on campus, and he remained in the Sprayberry community up until his death Thursday.
Frazier and his wife of 61 years, Wilma, who died last August, were dedicated to Sprayberry football.
“He’s almost like a family member,” said Billy Shackelford, who played football at Sprayberry before returning as an assistant and later head coach from 2007-16. “I’ve literally known him since the early '80s and got to know him as a personal level as a teacher and coach. He’s a true-blue, black-and-gold Yellow Jacket.”
In 2015, state Rep. Don Parsons, whose district includes Sprayberry and much of east Cobb, sponsored a resolution in the Georgia General Assembly to honor Frazier for his contributions to the community.
A native of Tennessee, Frazier came to Sprayberry in 1959. While a member of the football coaching staff, the Yellow Jackets won two region titles, two Cobb County titles and finished as a top-10 team in the state three times. He was also on the Sprayberry football and baseball committees for close to 50 years.
Before arriving at Sprayberry, Frazier played football at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and studied for a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University.
Sprayberry athletic director Phil Henderson, also a former baseball coach at the school, said there will be an event commemorating Frazier’s life and his contributions to the Sprayberry community during the upcoming football season, though no details have been finalized.
“He had a real love and passion for Sprayberry High School and the Sprayberry community,” Henderson said. “He was just a really, really good man and very helpful with the coaches. There was a great demeanor about him all the time.”
Added current Sprayberry football coach Brett Vavra, who played for the Yellow Jackets from 1996-99: “He’d been retired for a long time when I came through as a player. I’ve known him for sitting on a golf cart watching our practices. I can’t tell if there is one person who loved Sprayberry football more than Jim Frazier.”
What Sprayberry coaches remembered most about Frazier were the pizza parties Frazier and his late wife, a longtime east Cobb elementary school teacher, would host at their home before the season began. They would invite coaches, players, alumni, faculty members, with as many as 100 showing up.
“They would invite the coaching staff to their house multiple times a year for no reason just to serve us and celebrate the program,” said Whitefield Academy coach Coleman Joiner, a former Sprayberry assistant under Shackelford. “He and his wife served and loved the Sprayberry community. Even as his health was declining, he was still all about Sprayberry football, the kids and the program.”
When Shackelford took over the Sprayberry program in 2007, he said he and Frazier would often reminisce about life and Sprayberry football, and Shackelford described Frazier as a walking “history book.” Frazier would recall memorable moments in the Yellow Jacket program's history, such as when Sprayberry first beat Marietta in 1961.
“There’s not many people in this world that I can brag about,” said Shackelford, now the coach at East Paulding. “He was such a good man.”