Nov. 3, 2000
by Erin Shea
Driving down I-5 at a little over 60, you quickly change lanes without using your signal. Immediately, the dreaded red and blue lights begin to flash in your rearview mirror. You pull over, and as you reach for your license and registration, you see Officer Matt Fraize, at 6-foot-4 inches and 300 pounds, making his way to your car.
As his foreboding frame shadows your window, and you begin to think couldn't have had it any worse, a big smile cracks his face and he politely asks for your paperwork. Fraize gives you a ticket, but the experience you've just shared with quite possibly the nicest law enforcement officer ever, has made your day a little brighter.
Sounds improbable, but senior offensive guard Matt Fraize might cause you to think differently. His "gentle giant" demeanor with a smile any mother would love, makes one only hope that when the red and blue lights flash, he's the guy handing you the ticket.
Fraize wants to be a police officer. The past two summers, he served as an intern with the Seattle Police Department, and this fall -- amidst football and finishing up school -- he's interning downtown with the robbery and homicide unit once a week. After he graduated this past June, Fraize knew law enforcement was his calling and now that the time has come, he is ready to take on the challenge.
"I honestly had no idea what I was going to do," the Santa Rosa, Calif., native says. "After my internship, I got really interested and it's what I want to do now."
Fraize has been impressive in all he has done at UW, giving optimism for success in his future endeavors. After coming to campus in 1996 and redshirting the season, Fraize lettered in 1997, appearing in every game. In 1998, he backed up all-conference guard Tony Coats, playing in all 11 games and the O'ahu Bowl. Last year, Fraize once again played backup, to center Kyle Benn and helped lead the Huskies to an average of 189.7 rushing yards per game.
With so much experience as a reserve, Fraize was more than ready to move into the starting lineup this season.
"After being a backup for three years, you appreciate it a lot more," Fraize explains. "I've been playing since my redshirt freshman year, so I've been involved the last four years, but this year is just a different experience for me."
Fraize's "different experience" began in 1996, when he chose UW over other top-quality programs in California and Nebraska.
"I came for the mix of a good, solid football program and really good academics," says Fraize, who earned his degree in political science.
Heading north meant leaving behind a loving family that has trekked from California to almost all of the Husky games to watch him play. It didn't take long for Fraize to find a surrogate family, however, as he and the four other freshman offensive linemen bonded quickly. Now one of six seniors on the offensive line in 2000, Fraize has lived with fellow trenchmen Dominic Daste and Chad Ward since 1997.
"I know these guys really well," he says. "Playing offensive line, you really get to know these guys. The more you are together, the more you know what each other is thinking. We don't even have to tell each other, we just know."
Playing offensive line always begs the question, though: what about the glory? Everyone knows the quarterback with 500 total offensive yards, or the tailback with a 200-yard rushing game, but who makes that all possible? It's those big offensive linemen making blocks and creating the holes through which those players run.
"I don't worry about the individual glory too much," Fraize says. "I feel like I get enough glory playing for the Huskies and winning games. Within the team, there is plenty of recognition."
A three-year backup, Fraize now holds three Husky letters, a starting spot on the team and a degree in political science from the University of Washington. He has to be happy with that.
"As an individual, I'm proud that I was focused with school and finished in four years," Fraize says.
Fraize isn't the only player who understands the value of a commitment to excellence.
"I'm proud of how hard we work," he says. "I know we work harder than a majority of teams out there. The work ethic here is just amazing."
When the season ends in another few months, Fraize will join the working world, after an impressive college career and a clear path towards his future. His imposing physical prowess would make any criminal think twice, but his warm smile and admirable presence might make them think they were lucky to have been in the presence of such an amicable young man.
And if it's you who are the next to be in the clutches of future officer Matt Fraize, may you enjoy every moment.