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Manteca’s Fraser signs with Graceland University
Ethan Fraser signing
Manteca High senior Ethan Fraser is embraced by mom Amy after signing with Graceland University’s men’s soccer team Monday. With them, from left, are sister Abby, father Michael and girlfriend Emilee Henry. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

 A young Ethan Fraser was drawn to the sport of soccer when he happened to catch a game on TV.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” the Manteca High senior said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I want to do that.’”

As he got older, the dreams got bigger.

On Monday, he got to achieve one of his greatest life goals when signing with the Graceland University men’s soccer team in front of coaches, teammates, friends and family at Manteca High.

“When it came time to start thinking about college, I started out looking at the big-name colleges and the top teams,” Fraser said. “When you get old enough, you begin to realize that sometimes you won’t be able to play for the highest-level teams, but you can still make it to college on scholarship anywhere.”

Graceland University, a private school out of Lamoni, Iowa, is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The Yellowjackets are looking to bounce back from one of their worst seasons, finishing 4-12 in the fall.

There is renewed hope for the program however, as head coach Bryan Courtney has revamped his staff that now includes Dr. Ivan Joseph, who has been named associate head coach. He previously served as Graceland’s head coach from 1997-2007, leading the Yellowjackets to four NAIA Championship appearances — they won a national title in 2006 — while spearheading efforts to build new soccer facilities at the school.

Joseph has since coached the Guyana national women’s team from 2019-22.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Fraser said. “He has helped a lot of players go pro. Him coming back is going to benefit the program. I feel like I can learn a lot from him.”

Fraser made initial contact with Graceland coaches and was invited to participate in an ID camp at the school over the summer. He was offered an athletic scholarship in the winter, but his status with the team became unclear with the coaching changes.

Fraser returned to Lamoni two weeks ago and made his commitment.

“When I visited, I wanted to see how I would fit into the team and if they would want to keep me,” he said. “It was a big concern, because I didn’t know the new coaches.”

The second visit also gave him another chance to get acquainted with the small town of about 2,000 residents.

Ethan Fraser signing
Ethan Fraser, second from right, with Manteca High boys soccer coaches, from left, Eric Gonzalez (JV coach), James Burns (head coach) and Hayden Beier (assistant coach).

A wing forward for the Manteca High and his Manteca FC high-comp teams, Fraser was told that the attacking positions will be up for grabs by the time he arrives.

He credits coach James Burns and his assistants for preparing him for the college game. Burns is his coach for both the high school and club levels. In the winter, Fraser was named to the All-Valley Oak League first team after helping the Buffaloes make their first postseason appearance in 10 years. He scored four goals and five assists.

A 4.0 student, Fraser plans on studying pre-physical therapy.