I purposely didn’t identify the Jr or Sr in the story line because it is impossible to describe one without the other. Two very similar, extremely different giants in the forum of Kenosha high school football history…Frank Matrise Sr and Frank Matrise Jr. The recent stories will obviously center around Frank Jr due to his untimely passing. Frank Matrise Jr earned the right to live a long and fulfilled life. He touched the lives of countless students, friends, family and the sports watching public. His death is nothing short of a pure tragedy.
My Frank Jr story begins way back in the mid 70’s when I would hang out at my home of my buddy Mark Moyes over on 32nd and 78th. Well Mark’s neighbor and first cousin was Frank Jr so I’ve known Frank literally since he was a toddler. And while one might think that the Matrise household was all X’s and O’s, and that they didn’t take a lunch, they simply had halftime…and one would be wrong to assume so. The Matrise family was as normal and everyday as any other Kenosha family in the 70’s. It would not be unheard of to see Frank Jr sprint out of the house with his mom’s best frying pan airborne and closing on him fast. Just regular folks.
And there were several great “Frank Jr” moments from the 100 plus wins to the candid conversations after a practice with Frank and coach Mike McKay. I was also humbled to be asked by Frank to be present when he received the prestigious Marge and Dick Rundle Positive Influence of Coaching Award in 2011 at the WFCA awards ceremony in Madison. I know that was an award that meant as much to him as any he would receive and I was happy to be the lone representative of the Kenosha media pool in the house to congratulate him on a well deserved honor. Frank Jr had a ton of “story worthy” events in his life but the one I can say is the story that will stick with me forever is the shout out to his mom.
Having broadcast over 400 games on local radio including a handful of state championships, it would be safe to assume I have done a few Tremper football games. THE one constant of all of those Tremper broadcasts was Frank’s reminder to me that at some point during the broadcast, to please send a shout out to his mom. After a while it became a running joke and I’d go on the offensive and say “so coach, did you want me to send a shout out to your mom?”. Or occasionally he’d get the upper hand and ask first to which I would simply respond “no”. And then we’d have a laugh and I’d go pretend I know a lot about football and he’d coach Tremper to a win…and “momma Matrise” was never left out of the broadcast.
At the end of the day, the guy with the same name and same profession as his highly successful father, just wanted to send out some love to his mom. The wins took a back seat to the relationships. The awards took a back seat loyalty. And the praise from the community took a back seat to his love for his family. That is not a Hall of Fame coach…that is a Hall of Fame human being. I will miss our conversations.