For Chanute head football coach Clete Frazell, his recent SEK League Coach of the Year award wasn’t earned solely on fall Friday nights.
It was earned in the summer evenings when he’d drive by the school’s football complex.
He’d glance out the window to the sight of the same black Chevy Silverado with a cattle guard on the front. That meant quarterback Eric Erbe was leading an offseason workout.
It was earned in meetings with his coordinators and assistant coaches during the 60-hour weeks they’d work during the season.
It was earned by a group of underclassmen on the team, who never played a snap on Friday nights but trained as a scout team.
“It almost makes me feel guilty because there are 60-plus other people in the program who work to make our season a success, but I get an award for it,” Frazell said. “I was jokingly texting some people the other day to say that I wanted to cut (the award) into about 60 little pieces to give everybody a chunk.”
Frazell was surrounded by the SEK League’s other coaches at Chanute High School for their usual postseason meeting when he learned he won the award.
He had a hunch going into the meeting that he’d be in the running — the Blue Comets’ resume of an 8-2 season and undefeated record in SEK League play speaks for itself.
The meeting’s attendees had just plated their Italian food from Iola’s Sam & Louie’s when Labette County head coach Sean Price leaned over to Frazell before the meeting even began.
“By the way, congratulations,” Price said. “You’re coach of the year.”
“I’m not one who really likes attention,” Frazell said. “I just said cool and nobody really paid much attention to it, including myself.”
Frazell isn’t one to bask in his own glory or accolades.
The first thought that popped in his head after the news wasn’t what that moment meant for his legacy.
“I think about the great coaches we have working with each position group,” Frazell said. “I think about the players and what they did to achieve their goals of building a great team all year.”
The first idea that crept into his mind after the Blue Comets’ season ended against Bishop Miege didn’t involve him holding out hope for a personal piece of hardware after his squad’s hopes were dashed.
“The first thing that comes to mind when you lose is what are we going to do next year to get ourselves back in position to have a similar season and maybe take another step forward,” Frazell said.
As Chanute’s offseason gets under way, the Blue Comets coach is more focused on building off the foundation laid in the 2021 season.
He’s excited for those kids on the scout team to put in the work required to blossom into the future leaders of this program — and the possibility of driving past their trucks parked outside the football field in a few years.
“I just appreciate everything that everyone put in,” Frazell said. “It’s one of those deals where a lot of people were involved and had a huge impact in a lot of different ways. It’s just humbling to have kids work so hard for each other and not care about who gets the credit.”