EAST LANSING —Why is John Fronzoni, father of field hockey
captain April Fronzoni, wearing a press pass? He’s a parent,
not a member of the media. He has all the access he wants as far as
talking to players is concerned. So what’s the deal?

Mira Levitan
Senior forward April Fronzoni plays the ball yesterday while her father, John, and the rest of the Wolverine faithful watch her stellar weekend. (TONY DING/Daily)

The answer provides a characterization of a group of parents
that have made themselves an integral part of Michigan field
hockey.

At the Wolverines’ regular season game against Michigan
State, John Fronzoni wandered over to a side of the field on which
spectators were not allowed. He did not realize that this area was
prohibited, and was not anticipating any trouble. Much to his
surprise, an official came over to him and demanded that he move.
When he expressed confusion, the official threatened to eject him
from the game.

Like their talented children, the field hockey parents always
look to capitalize on opportunities. Not scoring opportunities, but
chances to make one another laugh.

“We made that press pass for him,” Joann Hillman,
mother of sophomore Lori Hillman, said. “He was also given a
book on how to win friends and influence people.”

This tight-knit group from across the United States rallies at
the site of Michigan’s games week after week, season after
season. Spending so much time together has allowed them to gel with
coach Marcia Pankratz’s vision of her program.

“When we first got recruited… one of the things
Marcia said to us, I’ll never forget it … was
‘We just want you to know that one of the things we pride
ourselves on is creating a family,’ ” John Fronzoni
said. “She said, ‘We really believe we have a good
hockey family here.’ It is absolutely true. From the first
day, the senior parents and upperclassmen parents were so welcoming
to us, and we’ve tried to pass that tradition
down.”

At the end of yesterday’s contest, it was clear that the
Michigan field hockey family extends far beyond the grandstand.
Parents immediately picked up their phones and started spreading
the word about the Wolverine victory. Shouts of “We’re
dancing!” and “We’re going to Amherst!”
resonated off the metal benches.

The sense of camaraderie within the group is obvious. They cheer
in unison, they share inside jokes and hang out with one another at
games.

“We have a great time,” Fronzoni said. “We all
went out last night. There were 24 or 25 of us at some Italian
restaurant, and it was great.”

Joann Hillman agrees wholeheartedly with her cohort.

“We are the best parents in this country,” Joann
Hillman said. “We have it all over every other college.
We’re just a big family here at Michigan.”

Their dedication to their daughters is evident in their
eagerness to watch last weekend’s games against the North
Carolina and Michigan State in bitter cold and hail and their
constant vocal support. But a particularly poignant way in which
they show their support is when they wait for their daughters after
the game. At Michigan State, the field is surrounded by a track,
which is fenced in.

The Wolverine parents stood by the chain-link fence, their eyes
aglow with excitement from seeing a win that would take their
daughters to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship. When the players
finally arrived, they were bombarded by hugs and words of
congratulations.

“I never been on a team that has had so much
support,” April Fronzoni said.

 

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