They met in high school more than 45 years ago, and they now continue to meet in high school, regularly.
Gary and Sharon Fralick have a standing date (well, he stands, she sits) on many Tuesdays and Fridays from November through early March in the gym at Troy High School – and at other gyms in the Oakland Activities Association.
These days it’s a little different than when they were dating as sophomores at St. Mary of Redford High School in Detroit so many years ago. Now, the two work side by side — Gary’s the coach of the Troy High Colts varsity basketball team and Sharon is the high school’s official basketball scorekeeper.
If you haven’t seen them on area high school courts during Colts games, you may have seen them at other schools — Gary is the gym teacher at Schroeder and Morse elementary schools in Troy, and Sharon teaches sixth grade English and Reading at St. Hugo of the Hills School in Bloomfield Hills.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we bounced some questions off the basketball-loving couple to discover what makes a winning marriage.
Patch: You were freshmen in high school when you met. So how did your romance begin?
Sharon: “He was my boyfriend’s friend.”
Gary: “And a good friend of mine was Sharon’s boyfriend.” Cupid took over from there and in 1969 the two married. “We were puppies when we got married — 20 years old!”
Patch: You have three children. Did you pass your basketball-loving genes down to them?
Gary: “Our oldest son played for me here at Troy High and was my assistant coach. He also played at college. Our youngest son also played the game. Our daughter didn’t get into it, but she does come to the games here.” One of their sons coaches a high school team in Ashland, Ohio, as well.
Patch: How did you get into scorekeeping?
Sharon: “I started when our sons played in the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) league. I then kept score at Troy High for the girls and then when Gary became head coach of the boys, I started with his team.”
Patch: Is it ever challenging working right next to your spouse at the games?
Sharon: “Only when he misbehaves, or gets overzealous.” She laughs this off, recognizing that Gary’s fire and passion for both the game and coaching are a part of who he is.
Patch: Does Coach’s “overzealousness” continue post-game?
Sharon: “Oh no, he’s comatose after a game.”
Gary: “I’m recovering, getting ready for the next game.”
Patch: What are the benefits of working courtside near each other?
Sharon: “We work separately all day at different jobs, and then he works and coaches games at night. Scorekeeping as a second job for me is great because I can share in his life here at Troy High.”
Gary: “She’s been doing the books for me for 38 years, including every year that I’ve been at Troy.” Before coaching at Troy High, Gary was head coach at Royal Oak Kimball, and before that Redford Thurston High School. Previously, he held a basketball coaching position at Kensington Academy in Beverly Hills.
“It’s comforting. I always know that Sharon’s going to do a good job. And I can go over to her and say something, but not off color, of course, and it doesn’t surprise her.” (He’s referring to one of those expletives that coaches just might blurt out now and again.)
Sharon: “He gets animated, worked up.”
Patch: What do you like about scorekeeping?
Sharon: “This is a safe place. I don’t need to be in the stands listening to the comments (about the team’s mistakes or her husband’s coaching decisions).”
Patch: What are some of your best memories at Troy High as a parent?
Sharon: “It was very special when my sons played for Gary (their youngest graduated in 1991; Gary’s been with Troy High for 24 years) and I could scorekeep at those games.”
Patch: Gary, your passion for Troy basketball is likely even greater because of your tenure in this city. Many of the guys you coach at Troy High were your gym students when they were 5 years old, right?
Gary: “I’m in my 25th year at Schroeder, so yes, I’ve seen a lot of the guys from the time they were in kindergarten.” (Last year, Gary had four or five guys on his varsity team whom he taught sometime from kindergarten on.) “I’ve watched them grow and change, and of course they’ve seen me go from easy-going phys. ed. teacher to, uh (he chuckles here), not-so-easy-going high school coach.”
Patch: What are some of your best memories in coaching?
Gary: “There have been so many great games over the years ... big games and crushing defeats ... some outstanding wins. I wish I could enjoy them a little bit longer, but I’m always getting ready for the next game. Some of the best memories are when we beat (Troy) Athens.
Sharon: "Yes, that’s always special.”
Troy High plays Rochester High School in Troy on Valentine's Day. Will the Fralicks have time to even think of a Valentine’s gift for each other, or will they be too focused on game day? It’s hard to say. One thing's for sure: They each put their heart into the game ... together.