I remember deciding during the summer before my senior year in college that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. I had just completed an internship in Ft. Wayne and was hooked on the opportunity to go work every day at a job I enjoyed and to have the opportunity to cover talented athletes and tell their stories.
During my 12+ years in television I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and have had numerous memorable “work days” I’m not sure however, that I’ve participated in a 10-minute group interview session quite like the one I did Monday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler junior forward Erik Fromm’s father Leonard passed away Saturday, losing a battle against Cancer. He had been fighting the disease for a little over 7 months, but during this time had been able to spend a great deal of quality time with his family. Erik wanted to share some of his memories and lessons learned from his dad Monday. At a few points during the interview you could see Erik shaking a bit, there was so much emotion coming from his voice, but he stayed strong the entire time. Erik often smiled when telling a story about his dad or recalling a lesson he had taught him.
There were probably 8-to-10 media members listening to Erik talk. Once the interview ended, we all shook his hand, and kind of looked at each other, a little bit amazed at what we had just witnessed. There was a unanimous feeling of, ‘There is no way I could’ve done what Erik Fromm just did’
Most of the time when I get goosebumps these days it comes from something my four-year old son says or accomplishes or from seeing some unexpected finish to a game. Erik Fromm’s words and message gave me goosebumps on more than one occasion Monday afternoon. If you have time, I recommend listening to the excepts of the interview posted below. I’ve transcribed just a few of the quotes from each particular video segment as well.
“I think that the greatest gift you can give somebody is inspiration. Hundreds of people have contacted me and told me that is all that my dad did for them. I know that he doesn’t want me to be upset and worried about it, because he was at peace”
“He was just so optimistic, always hard-working. One of the reasons he could stay so strong was because he worked out five nights a week for his whole life…That was one reason he could fight for so long, I’m just super proud of him”
“One thing I’ve really tried to do this year, which I hope I will continue doing is just try to give 100 percent effort at all times, really trying to hustle, because that is what my dad really got excited about. He was so happy after the IU game when I had five offensive rebounds, he thought that was so cool. He used to throw the ball off the backboard to me and practice tip-ins, and hustle plays. He would always tell me hustle plays say a lot about your character and what you say about the team and what you think about the team.”
“I know that he wouldn’t want me to sulk and make myself upset, I know it’s hard because I have my moments where it’s really tough. I just need to keep pushing forward and keep doing what I can for this team. We talked about the fans being a second family, all those guys and that staff in there, all those coaches are like a second father to me and all those guys on the team are like my brothers that I never had. I owe it to them to try my hardest and try to keep my composure and do everything like that. At the end of the day I don’t want to regret, looking back and thinking I didn’t give it what my dad would’ve given it”
While my job requires I be “neutral” when it comes to covering the local teams, I do not hide my affinity for building the Butler Bulldogs call home. Nor am I shy about my feelings about the people inside the Butler basketball program. They are just a special group of people and Erik Fromm showed his true character Monday afternoon.
Leonard Fromm was no doubt smiling down on his son Monday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse. This was a difficult day as Erik had planned to celebrate his 21st birthday with his dad in the hospital. This will be a difficult week as Erik will participate in a viewing and memorial service for his father while also preparing for a couple of Atlantic-10 games with his teammates.
However, based upon my observations of Erik over the last three years and Monday afternoon’s brief interview, I have little doubt Erik will handle everything that comes his way this week and will continue to be a stabling presence for both the Fromm family and his Butler family.