Ezra Frech competes during the Men's High Jump T63 Final at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships 2019 Dubai on Nov. 14, 2019 in Dubai.
Ezra Frech can pinpoint the exact moment that competing at the Paralympics became his dream. He has always been an extremely active kid, participating in just about every sport in the book. But for Ezra, it was the 2016 Paralympics that changed his life.
He was watching one of the track sessions in the living room with his family and couldn’t believe how immediately inspired he felt.
“I went outside and immediately set up all these boxes stacked really high, and just jumped over them and over them because I was just fueled with motivation. I had my mom record a video and I was like ‘Hi everyone, I’m Ezra Frech and this is my first official training session for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics,’ ” he laughed.
Ezra recalled seeing so many familiar faces, people he had competed against and trained with, who were competing at such a high level. That made it clear to him that he could be right there beside them.
Ezra was born with congenital limb differences, and received his first prosthetic leg at just 11 months old. But that certainly didn’t slow him down. Sports have been his passion since before he could even walk.
“Ezra was mainstream in sports for a really long time, playing a lot of basketball but also flag football and soccer and whatever else he could try,” his dad, Clayton Frech, explained. “But he started track pretty early. We went out to the Endeavor Games - an adaptive sport competition - when he was 8 years old.”
It was actually the Endeavor Games that inspired the Frech family to start an organization of their own in Southern California.
“It was out on the track at the Endeavor Games on a Sunday afternoon when I just asked the question - ‘why do we have to come to Oklahoma to run, jump, throw things, to do Paralympic sports?’ ” Clayton Frech said. “That was in 2013, and I was on a mission after that - chasing down officials and people who knew how to run meets, everything we needed to bring a Games to Los Angeles.”
The inaugural Angel City Games launched in 2015. A multi-sport adaptive sport competition, the organization allows an opportunity for athletes of all ages and abilities to compete in sports.. They put on both clinics and competitions, creating a space for athletes to learn more about each sport and develop relationships within the community in order to find the sport that they can excel at.
“I left the corporate world in 2015 to start Angel City and we’ve kind of dedicated our lives to this movement and making sure no one is left out of sports or left behind for whatever reason,” said Clayton Frech.
This year, the organization made the decision to host the games virtually, thus launching the 2020 Angel City Virtual Games presented by The Hartford. The organization will host a total of three weeks of programming, including virtual clinics, workouts, challenges and even concerts. The second week of programming begins next week on August 3rd and lasts through August 9th, with the final week beginning August 24th. More information can be found here.
Alongside working with Angel City and training for the 2020 Paralympic Games, Ezra is also still a 15 year old with school, homework and a social life. His training schedule has made balancing it all a full-time job.
“I could say that it’s been difficult, but at the end of the day this is what I chose to do. We knew I wasn’t going to be the same as a normal kid, I’m not going to have the same social life as a normal kid,” Ezra explained. “It’s difficult to balance and there’s been a lot of late nights doing homework, but at the end of the day there’s nothing I would rather be doing.”
At 15, Ezra is the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field team. To him, that means a whole lot of older brothers looking out for him and teaching him the ropes of the competition world.
“Seeing these guys that I’ve known for awhile compete at such a high level and knowing exactly what they do before a race and what they eat and how they sleep and prepare completely motivated me. I have learned so much already from the experience. But besides the competition aspect, it’s just so cool,” Ezra laughed. “I’m the young kid on the team so they all kind of mess with me. They’re such great guys and encourage me to enjoy the moment.”
His dad then chimed in: “By the way, I’m texting a lot of these guys saying ‘Hey, keep an eye on this kid.’ They are like a little family and it’s pretty sweet.”
While Ezra’s first Paralympic Games experience has been postponed, his excitement and motivation have not waned. Although his training routine had to be adjusted - now including backyard workouts and social distancing with his trainers - he still has his eyes set on Tokyo. Ezra will compete in the high jump, long jump and 100m sprint.
“I want to be a multi medalist in Tokyo in 2021. That’s my goal,” Ezra stated matter-of-factly. “You can quote me on this - I will be a multi medalist when I walk away from Tokyo. We can look back after the Games and I’ll say - ‘I called it.’”