PHOTO COURTESY OF PREMIER LACROSSE LEAGUE

Meet the Fraze: Chase Fraser’s Unlikely Path to PLL Stardom


Chase Fraser looked comfortable amid the, ahem, Chaos.

Fraser collected his own rebound, used a swim dodge to evade Atlas defenseman Tucker Durkin, spun and fired home a behind-the-back goal. He then raised his arms in celebration as he raced toward the stands of Subaru Park in Chester, Pa.

“Two words,” The Lacrosse Network tweeted about the highlight-reel goal that punctuated a 9-0 second half run in the Chaos’ 15-9 Premier Lacrosse League semifinal comeback win over the Atlas. “Chase. Fraser.”

The scoring sequence looked all too familiar to Neumann University men’s lacrosse coach Kyle Gardner. He’s appreciated Fraser’s flair and do-it-all mentality long before any professional field lacrosse fan special ordered his No. 95 Chaos jersey, let alone heard of him.

Gardner saw Fraser grow and mature from a 14-year-old sophomore with unparalleled creativity at the Blue Ridge School in St. George, Virginia, to the NCAA Division III goals-per-game leader (4.74) at Neumann in 2017 after he spent his first three years of college at the University of D.C.

For the last couple years, Gardner watched from afar as Fraser has exceled in the National Lacrosse League with the Buffalo Bandits and registered 84 points in 33 career games.

Now he’s making a name for himself in the PLL.

After the semifinal win, Fraser met up with Gardner along with several current players from Neumann — a private Catholic university with just over 2,500 students located less than five miles away from Subaru Park. Fraser visited the campus in Aston, Pa., the night before the semis to get in some extra shots. He wore his throwback No. 0 Neumann jersey to the game.

Gardner thanked Fraser for the tickets after they hugged in the concourse. Then he told Fraser how proud he was of him.

“He’s a guy that people are starting to become aware of and for good reason,” Gardner said. “To see him play at that level with those guys, that’s where he belongs. He’s had a heck of a journey to get here.”


“He’s a guy that people are starting to become aware of and for good reason.”

— Kyle Gardner


Though the Chaos have built a reputation for their Canadian-heavy roster and box-meets-field lacrosse style, Fraser’s star turn as the team’s starting righty attackman is still perhaps the surprise of the season. That’s largely because his last field lacrosse game before this summer was more than four years ago. On April 26, 2017, he registered two goals and three assists and won 13 of 21 faceoffs for Neumann in a 14-13 loss to Immaculata. He finished the season with 66 goals.

Chaos coach Andy Tower’s decision to sign Fraser from the player pool last February even caught him by surprise. Back home in Langley, British Columbia, Fraser was working 5 a.m.-2 p.m. shifts every day at Redwood Plastics and Rubber and stayed connected to the game through coaching with Faceoff Control. The NLL season had just been canceled. He wasn’t sure when he’d get another chance to play pro lacrosse.

Fraser was walking through an aisle at Redwood when his phone rang. It was Buffalo Bandits and now Chaos teammate Josh Byrne. Fraser answered, thinking it might be an emergency. Instead, it was an opportunity.

“That phone call just changed my whole mental state and I just turned it on,” Fraser said. “It’s something I’ll never forget and I’m still super thankful for everything that Josh did.”

Byrne described Fraser as a “right-handed version of me” when he made his pitch to Towers. It’s now easy to see why. Both are natives of British Columbia and grew up on opposite sides of the Fraser River. They’re each listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. Several of their goals bear an uncanny resemblance.

“We talk to our players all the time,” Towers said when asked about the intel he gained from Byrne. “We need their insight. They’re the ones who know who the best players and teammates are out there.”

Fraser’s teammate and most vocal advocate used to be his biggest rival. Their similar styles and tendency to wear their hearts on their sleeves, in Byrne’s words, created some memorable heated exchanges. “We were close to literally ripping each other’s heads off on the floor,” Fraser said.

Fraser recalled sitting in an arena tunnel after leaving game six of a British Columbia Junior Lacrosse League playoff series because his leg was in unbearable pain. He later learned he fractured his femur. Byrne walked by and uttered something about him being soft. Chaos ensued.

But after they got to know each other a bit better off the floor, they realized how alike they were. At the 2017 NLL Draft at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, Byrne, the No. 1 overall pick by the Bandits, was the first person to shake Fraser’s hand and welcome him to the team after they took him 13th overall.

“Ever since that day of being drafted, we’ve been best buddies,” Fraser said.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to introduce you guys you guys to the Fraze,” Byrne said to the NBC Sports broadcast team after Fraser scored his fourth career PLL goal in a win over the Chrome. “My boy is finally here and I’m so excited for him. It’s just the beginning.”








Fraser relocated to Buffalo on May 6 and has lived in the house Byrne and Dhane Smith bought just outside of the city along with fellow Bandits and Chaos teammates Chris Cloutier and Ian Mackay. He stayed behind, however, when the rest of his teammates went to training camp at Gillette Stadium. The day before, he received a call saying there was a problem with his visa. One week turned into two, then three, then four, as he waited for the process to be resolved.

The Chaos sputtered to an 0-3 start. Doubts surfaced for the attackman who plays with an unbridled confidence and left his family back in B.C. to pursue his passion.

“Did I really screw this up and make the wrong decision?” Fraser thought.

In the weeks of uncertainty, he turned to his family for guidance. He especially leaned on his mom, Shannon Fraser Hendrickson, and his younger brother, Jaxon Hendrickson, who’s an attackman at Illinois Wesleyan.

Fraser used to called his mom every day when he attended Blue Ridge after getting spotted at the West 150 camp. She helped him surpass any limits he set for himself and came to class with him one day in elementary school when he was keeping up with his studies. Along with Fraser’s stepfather, Rusty, she’d make the trip from British Columbia to catch one or two of his games in Virginia every year.

Fraser talks with his brother after every game and relies on his honest opinion. “He’s always there to keep me in check,” he said, even though Jaxon is five years younger. Fraser called him the most important person in his life. Recruited by Gardner to the Westtown School in West Chester (Pa.), Jaxon first brought it to his attention that Fraser was considering transferring.

“Something I’ve always really admired about him is how family focused he is,” Gardner said of Fraser, who transferred in part to be closer to his brother. “You might not always see that from his flair on the field or contagious enthusiasm and lightheartedness.”

Earlier this summer, Jaxon Fraser helped his brother stay positive and focused on his goal.

“Keep working, it’s going to pay off,” he told him. “You’re going to get your time and when you do, people are going to see you belong here.”




PHOTO COURTESY OF PREMIER LACROSSE LEAGUE


While adjusting his stick on the sidelines at Subaru Park during the first quarter, Fraser heard someone call his name. At first, he thought it was a fan, so he tried to block it out. But after he heard it a couple more times, he turned around and was surprised to see his girlfriend, Carleigh Lillies, who had flown all the way from Vancouver, and his brother.

Fraser froze, then flashed his almost ever-present smile that’s as distinctive as his tattoos or eye black.

“He’s done a lot for me in lacrosse, mentally, and pushed me to become where I am today,” he said. “I just owe a lot to him and he doesn’t even know that.”

Fraser has a sleeve of ink running up the length of his right arm, but only one tattoo on his chest. Memento Mori it says in cursive script underneath his right collarbone.

“Remember you will die,” reads a common translation of the Latin phrase.

To Fraser, it serves as a reminder to live his life. It’s finite, after all. Since he joined the Chaos in Week 4 on Long Island after his visa was approved, the team has taken on a new life. He played the first two games at midfield, registering two points in each, but soon found a home on the opposite wing from Byrne. Despite missing the first three weeks, Fraser ranked second on the team to Byrne in goals during the regular season.

“He gives us everything,” said Towers, who along with offensive coordinator Matt Pannetta revamped the Chaos offense for 2021. After listing all of Fraser’s attributes — his dodging ability, his “bomb” of a shot, his finishing ability — Towers praised his demeanor the most.

“He’s zero maintenance as a person. He just wants to [expletive] win.”

“We all grew up with the same style and all have the same goal in mind,” Fraser said of the mentality he credits to the box game and is shared by the rest of the team. “We don’t care how we win. We just want to win.”

On the weekend of his 26th birthday, Fraser had his most prolific performance yet. He scored eight goals in two games, including a season-high five in a win over the Archers. Every time he takes the field, he wears a gift from his 25th. The gold chain with a No. 95 pendant, Fraser’s birth year and his jersey number, is made from his great grandmother’s wedding ring and other pieces of jewelry.

At least for this week, he’s focused on another ring.

“He deserves this,” Byrne said. “It was never like anyone was doing him any favors. He just wasn’t being given a chance because his name wasn’t big enough or he didn’t go to a big enough school. It’s exciting for me to see him get this chance and run with it, but it’ll make it a lot more exciting if we can pull it off this weekend.”