Former Kennett High standout Melissa Frase is proof that even if you suffer a devastating injury, through hard work you can still achieve your goals. It was just barely a year ago that the 5'7" combo-guard suffered a torn ACL during AAU action, putting her hopes of becoming a scholarship player in serious jeopardy.
Frase had successful knee surgery, tirelessly worked to rehab her knee, was able to come back to the court and is now playing better than ever. And over the weekend she made a verbal commitment to player her college basketball at Division II UMass Lowell, which plays in the highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.
"Coming back from tearing my ACL was the toughest thing I have ever done" Frase told the NH Notebook. "However getting a scholarship was the most rewarding feeling that I have ever experienced."
Suffering a major injury like that right at the beginning of the live period before your senior year is a tough hand to be dealt. Frase had to sit out the first half of the season for Kennett before returning for the team's stretch run.
It would be crucial though for Frase to continue to get her knee stronger and have a big AAU season to show the college coaches that she was fully healed. She has been playing this spring and summer with the NH Rivals.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my AAU coach Scott Hazelton" said Frase. "He believed in me from the beginning and never gave up on me even after my injury. He always pushed me to do my best and I believe that he has made me a better all around player."
Frase is now playing without a brace on her knee, and is playing some great basketball. She can play the 1 or the 2, has great quickness, she always plays hard and is always looking to run and push the basketball in transition. On the break she is very effective because of her speed, excellent decision making in the open floor and ability to hit shots from the outside, take the ball to the rim and also hit the open man. She is a tough defender, and a very unselfish player. Frase makes some terrific passes and has outstanding court vision and awareness.
"It's been a pleasure to coach Melissa this Spring and Summer" said Hazelton, who has recently been hired as the new girls basketball coach at Bishop Guertin. "She has been one of our most consistent players throughout the season. She plays with great intensity and determination. I'm extremely pleased to see her get the opportunity to play at the next level. I think Melissa will play both the 1 and 2 at Lowell. She has an unbelievable knack for scoring and she can also pass very well."
At the end of the high school season Frase decided to do a post-grad year at the New Hampton School, allowing her to play another season of AAU. Once word got around to the area's college coaches, her recruitment really started to pick up as they all wanted to see how she was playing and how her knee was doing.
"In addition to UMass Lowell, other schools that I was considering were Assumption, St. Rose, Monmouth and Merrimack" said Frase.
On April 5, UMass Lowell announced the hiring of Sarah Behn as its new women's basketball head coach. Behn previously coached at Franklin Pierce and Framingham State in addition to being a former standout player at Boston College.
"The ultimate reason on choosing Umass Lowell was Coach Behn. I love the vision that she has with this program. I truly believe that she is going to be able to turn the program around and I would love to be apart of that. She is a phenomenal coach and I believe that she can make me a better all around player."
For Frase, academics were also a big part of her decision.
"Academically, they have a great marketing program, and that’s what I hope to do in my future. I plan on studying Sports Marketing or Business Management at Lowell."
The River Hawks graduate just one senior off last year's team, in Krissy Little (Concord, NH). Other NH natives on their roster include former Pinkerton star A.J. Guidi and Briana Szidat (Pelham, NH).
While she was playing at Kennett, Frase was an all-state player and she scored 1,000 points. She teamed up with Allie Wagner (committed to Merrimack College) to form one of the most feared back court tandems NH has seen in recent years. Together they helped lead the Eagles to the 2010 Division II championship, and in 2011 they made it to the D-II semi-finals before falling to Lebanon in an outstanding basketball game.
Frase will do her post-grad year at the New Hampton School this fall, where she will be able to play alongside Samantha Brenner, Madeline Blais and Lizzy Ball, who are all teammates on the NH Rivals AAU team. Frase will then take her game (and her scholarship) to Lowell in the fall of 2012 where she will play for Coach Behn and the River Hawks.
Congrats to Melissa, and best of luck at UMass Lowell!