Thomas Fris enjoys his role as leader of the Hooligans

On paper, Thomas Fris sounds fairly non-descript. He is a 47-year-old math teacher at Bethlehem Central High School.

But his effect on the student body is incredible and permeates beyond the classroom when he leads his band.

It isn't a rock and roll or ska band. Fris leads a pep band named The Hooligans.

What are The Hooligans? said Fris. "Well, most people know the reference from the European soccer fans who are often characterized as those who tend to get drunk, and be loud, and get into brawls, and run onto the field, and knock over referees, and that kind of craziness."

The Hooligans started in the summer of 2006 when a group of 10-12 seniors formed the band to support their friends on the varsity boys soccer team.

"I knew nothing about any of this until the first day of school, when I was approached by some kids," said Fris. "The initial question that they posed was, 'Mr. Fris, what are you doing at 4 o'clock this afternnon?'"

That initial question posed by 2007 graduates Pat Venter and Paul Cafiero would lead to the emergence of the Hooligans.

"Now I knew nothing of pep bands besides that they were meant for football games," Fris said. "I'm thinking, 'What are these kids up to?'"

Much to his amazement, Fris' early skepticism proved to be baseless. Not only had the young men been practicing heavily, but they had checked the official Section 2 Athletics Rules.

"It is legitimate to have a pep band at any high school athletic event, but you need a teacher supervisor," said Fris. "That's where I come in."

But why did Venter and Cafiero choose him? "I don't know anything about music except being a fan. I can't read music, I've never had any formal training, I can't play an instrument, but music has always been a huge part of my life," said Fris. "You add being a fun loving guy together with this band that's when I knew this was a match made in heaven."

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