Aspinwall grad to join Rutgers HOF
In 2010, Pierce Fraunheim was inducted into the Fox Chapel Sports Hall of Fame. He’ll have to make some room on the trophy shelf as he was recently chosen to enter the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame along with the rest of the 1961 Rutgers University football team that ended up undefeated.
That makes a total of six halls of fame on his resume.
“All of the awards mean something different to me, and they’re all special in their own way,” he said. “I wouldn’t have a single award without my great family supporting me. All of the people who I have worked with and coached are also responsible for my success.”
Fraunheim was born and raised in Aspinwall and graduated from Aspinwall High in 1958. He was a star athlete there and lettered three times in football and basketball.
He played quarterback and linebacker and rarely left the field.
He graduated in 1962 from Rutgers, where he was a three-year letter winner. He was also a two-way starter, and in the final game of the 1961 season he helped secure a perfect record with a pair of interceptions against Colombia. He then moved on to great success as the football coach and athletic director at Immaculata High School in New Jersey for nearly a half century.
The Rutgers induction is just the latest in a long line of achievement for Fraunheim. He was inducted into the Aspinwall High School Hall of Fame (1974), the NJICA Hall of Fame (1979), and was a recipient of the Rutgers Alumni Association “Ernest T. Gardner Memorial Award” (1982).
In 1992, Immaculata named a building in his honor, and in 1996 he was the first recipient of the New York Giants Lou Rettino Coach of the Year Award and followed that up in 1999 by being the first recipient of the Dr. John Bateman “Winners for Life” Award.
The year 2000 saw Fraunheim become the first recipient of the Spirit of Somerset County Award and in 2001 the NJSIAA Hall of Fame beckoned. He entered the New Jersey Football Coaches Association in 2002 and received the Rutgers University Football Letterwinners Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. He then won the Directors of Athletics of New Jersey Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
He’s also a member of the American Football Foundation Coaches Hall of Fame and was the New Jersey High School Football Coach of the Year five times.
Fraunheim, who retired as football coach and athletic director at Immacualta in 2012, put up some envious numbers. He won four state championships and earned 27 playoff berths, along with 24 conference championships. His teams hold a state record of 16 consecutive shutouts in regular-season games, and he had 37 straight winning seasons on his way to a 332-136-2 overall record.
Along with being the athletic director for 50 years and football coach for 47, he found time to be the assistant principal for 46 years. What makes his accomplishments even more amazing is that he had his larynx removed due to cancer in the 1970s.
“I was 33 at the time and, believe me, it changed my life around completely. I’m probably the only coach who never yelled at the players and that was because I couldn’t. I could raise my voice, but I wasn’t close to being loud. But I was still able to get the athletes’ attention when I needed to.”
He credits the things he learned through playing sports for his ability to overcome his disability.
“I learned esophageal speech, and it was an extremely difficult task. It took very much determination, persistence and patience. The end result was that I turned a negative experience into a positive one. I learned that a coach could be successful without the yelling on the field.
“When I look back at all those who have helped me achieve the honors and awards, I am truly humbled, and I have nothing but fond memories that each award brings back to me.”
Marty Stewart is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or [email protected].