Friar shines at Winter Extravaganza

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As all fine arts organizations collaborated to put on over 20 acts at Wednesday’s Winter Extravaganza, students were joined by a solo piano performance by basketball coach and health science teacher Stephen Friar.

“I approached him, because we knew he has this is a knack for playing piano. He’s a really great pianist , and he’s a really, really great vocalist as well,” jazz band director Zachary Anderson. “We were looking at what we wanted to have, as part of the program and said, you know what, it’d be really cool to have faculty perform, and to ask him if he would like to do that.”

He’s a really great pianist, and he’s a really, really great vocalist as well, ”

— jazz band director Zachary Anderson

Performing a rendition of “Mary Did You Know”, Friar did not hesitate to share his musical talent for the community.

“We asked him ‘Hey, what do you want to do? You wanna play piano, you want to sing?’,” Anderson said. “He goes, ‘whatever works’. We asked him, you know what tunes he knew. If you notice, he did it completely memorized. He just has a lot of these tunes that he’s performed, that he can, that he did for us, and did just a tremendous job out of it.”

Senior Ria Bhasin enjoyed the involvement of Friar, her former teacher, at the Extravaganza as she was in attendance Wednesday.

“Seeing him playing yesterday was amazing,” Bhasin said via text message. “Coach Friar played really well ; it seemed like a difficult piece but it was played beautifully.”

For Friar, a father of five, his venture into music began long before his career as a basketball coach, health science teacher, and former firefighter.

“I’ve been playing for 29 years and I started playing because the short answer is my parents made me but the long answer is that my dad’s sister was a music director at Mississippi State University and she taught us all to play at a young age, so I started picking it up from her,” Friar said. “Music is kind of my first love even before basketball , so I was able to read music before I can even read letters and numbers, so I was immersed at a very young age.”

Anderson appreciates Friar’s participation, recognizing the ability of music to build connections between teachers regardless of their subjects. 

“It’s really just, it’s such a tremendous honor to have someone that is in the completely opposite side of the world, from music and being athletics teacher,” Anderson said. To see that we have that common interest and that common bond of being musicians, and have him be able to perform is just really pretty spectacular.”

When they asked me to do, it I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play and join them in the stuff they’re contributing to campus,”

— Stephen Friar

While the Extravaganza was the largest performance Friar has had in a couple years, the ability to participate in an event alongside his students made the experience complete for him.

“I have a lot of students that participated in it, so it’s really kind of a good thing to see them participate and see all their talents and gifts, so when they asked me to do, it I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play and join them in the stuff they’re contributing to campus,” Friar said. “There were so many talented people, the bagpiper, the vocalist, the band, the orchestra, everyone was so talented. It was so amazing that so many people could run something that smoothly without a hitch. I’m very encouraged by the fact that I can work with staff members that can do stuff like that.”