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UF alumnus continues legacy of success at Buchholz High

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 1:27 am

At 27, Will Frazer decided to retire.

A UF business graduate, Frazer spent several years as a bond trader on Wall Street before returning to Gainesville and teaching math at F.W. Buchholz High School.

He might be able to boast more about the second job.

During his tenure at Buchholz, which began in January 1997, Frazer led the Buchholz math team to eight straight state championships and six straight national championships in the math honors society Mu Alpha Theta.

Frazer, 53, began taking his students to competitions in 1998. They didn’t go well.

Although Frazer became discouraged, his students’ enthusiasm motivated him.

“I decided we were going to be winners, or I wasn’t going to do it,” Frazer said.

Winning the Mu Alpha Theta National Convention on July 13 marked the sixth straight national championship team Frazer has coached.

Although Frazer is competitive, he is especially excited to see his students grow personally.

John Phillpot, an 18-year-old recent Buchholz graduate, said the team developed his strong work ethic.

“I’d be such a slacker without the team,” he said.

Phillpot, who is attending Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., competed in eighth grade and throughout high school.

Preparation is what sets the Buchholz team apart, Phillpot said. Team members prepare for tournaments with two to three hours of nightly studying, and they took three tests each day for the first six weeks of summer, he said.

Ziwei Lu, teacher and math coach, said great students make the team what it is.

“There is no [other] school that is truly competitive,” Lu said.

This year, the Buchholz math team will be focusing on different competitions, including some that help determine the U.S. team for the International Mathematic Olympiad.

Regardless of how those competitions turn out, Fraser and his students have experienced a lot of success.

“If you’re the champion, you’re going to remember that the rest of your life,” Frazer said.

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