This blog post is by AMPassador and band dad Rich Frazier.
I credit the trampoline and the Arkansas Razorbacks for getting me really involved in the band booster club.
When he was younger, “Little Jack” would come up to me when I came home from work and beg me to jump on the trampoline with him. Now, jumping on the trampoline is not my favorite thing. In fact, I often begged off. But when I did jump, I was never sorry.
Eventually I came to learn that jumping on the trampoline wasn’t about jumping. It was about the time a boy spent with his dad or mom. The trampoline was where the stories from school came out. This is where we learned about his friends, his thoughts, and his ideas. This is where we learned what was going on in “Jack-world”.
As Jack got older, the jumps on the trampoline became more and more infrequent. They were replaced by homework, video games, school activities and other friends.
Now Little Jack is a young man; a sophomore in high school marching band. He’s taller than his dad and his hair is longer than his mom’s. For the past few years, I’ve been missing those opportunities to jump.
This fall, I got a wake up call when we moved our oldest daughter 1200 miles away to the University of Arkansas. One minute I’m teaching her how to ride a bike, then how to drive my car. Before I know it we’re moving her into the dorm and I’m bleeding money.
One kid down and now Jack is starting his second year in high school. That’s when I realized I needed to get back on the trampoline.
I was already on the booster board—I joined last year—but was not really active. I had excuses: I didn’t know anyone; I didn’t want to miss halftime or contest performances; I’m just a freshman dad – I’ll sit back and watch for a while. There are plenty of other parents to do the work.
That attitude had to change. This was Jack’s world now. If I wanted to know what’s going on in it, I needed to jump in and get busy!
As it turns out, I loved working in the concession stand. My fellow concessionaires and I had a ball and I got to talk to a lot of friendly visitors. Working the pit crew for games and contests was also rewarding. I felt like I was back in the thick of things—AND I had a front row seat.
In the midst of all this, a funny thing happened. Not only did I make new band-parent friends and get to know the band director better; I reconnected with Jack. Pulling through McDonald’s drive through for a post-game ice cream cone, letting him drive us home, talking about the drill, the music, his friends, the woodwind parties: these things became our trampoline.
We talk differently now. He’s a man and I try to treat him as such. He’s naturally more reserved. I try to give him his space and not go into “Dad mode” when we’re with the band. But I made it clear to him that I am going to be there. Not to hover and intrude; but to engage. This is something we can share together. This is our world…at least until graduation. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I’ve got to go now. Jack’s little sister just asked me to jump.
Rich Frazier is the founder and president of VisionConnect. An inspiring and motivating leader, Rich has over 21 years experience as a successful senior executive for some of the most influential organizations in the arts, higher education and healthcare. After a brief broadcasting career, Rich made the move to the non-profit sector because of the direct impact those organizations make on their communities.
Rich is an avid musician and has been married to his wife, Carol, for 25 years. They have three children and reside in Chandler, Arizona. Rich volunteers his time at his church, the Chandler Cultural Foundation and the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership. He is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.