2004 Crowley Award Winner
By Larry Sellers, Crowley Award Chair
Brother Rice High School
Albert Fracassa graduated cum laude from Detroit Northeastern High School in 1951 as the president of his class; along with his academic success he was an All-City Baseball player and All-City and All-State Football player, which led to an athletic scholarship to Michigan State University as a quarterback. While at MSU from 1951 through graduation in 1955 Al was a member of the 1952 National Champion Team, as well as the 1954 Rose Bowl team and received the Fred Danziger Award in 1954 in recognition of outstanding contributions to the MSU football team.
Coach Fracassa began his teaching and coaching career in the fall of 1955 as an assistant coach at Flint Mandeville High School, spent 1956-57 in the United States Army, then taught and assisted at Rochester High School in 1958 and 1959. In 1960 he became the head football coach at Royal Oak Shrine, compiling a 44-19-5 record through the 1968 season. In 1969 he became the head football coach at Brother Rice High School and has been there for the past 35 years, compiling a 288-72-2 record along with 10 Detroit Catholic League Championships, 17 playoff appearances, 9 state final appearances and 5 state championships; his 1974 team won a mythical Class “A” state title the year prior to the beginning of the playoff system. With a career record of 332-91-7, Al is the winningest coach in the history of Michigan High School Football.
Coach Fracassa’s won-lost record, numerous Catholic League and State Titles, Regional and State Coach of the Year and Hall of Fame selections (both state and nationally), and his experience as a speaker at numerous Coach of the Year Clinics throughout the country has established a résumé of unsurpassed achievement. It is very easy to defend the assertion that he is one of the greatest coaches in the history of Michigan high school football. Simply admiring the achievements mentioned above, however, would do a great disservice to our recipient. The true measure of this man is not a lifetime of gridiron accomplishment, but rather a lifetime of commitment to the virtues of selflessness, sacrifice, dedication and love.
It is these qualities, particularly his love for his players, that make Al Fracassa a remarkable man and so deserving of the Jim Crowley Award. His devotion to the young men who play for him is absolute and everlasting and his players respond to that love with the totality of effort that has become the hallmark of Brother Rice football. Coach Fracassa knows the X’s and 0’s of football as well as anyone, but his true genius lies in his unmatched ability to elevate the human spirit. He develops superior football teams because his primary concern is the development of young men of superior character.
Henry Adams once wrote that “A teacher affects eternity; he never knows where his influence will end.” Because of him thousands of young men have learned invaluable lessons on the football field that they later used to establish themselves as honorable, productive adults. Because of him there are countless former players of his who are now business owners who understand the importance of integrity, doctors who understand the value of compassion, military officers and government officials who understand the necessity of leadership, and husbands and fathers who understand the power of faith and love.
Coach Al Fracassa’s influence has gone far beyond the gridiron and will affect generations of young men and women whom he will never meet. This achievement dwarfs anything his teams have accomplished on the football field; he has brought great credit and distinction to Michigan high school football and to the entire coaching profession.
It is our honor to present the 2004 Jim Crowley Award to Coach Albert Fracassa of Birmingham Brother Rice High School.