One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for October 10, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
College coaching is a fabulous profession if you think about all the wonderful people you get to form relationships with. In 1975 as I launched my coaching career at East Carolina as a young assistant basketball coach I got to become acquainted with a just as young track and field assistant coach named Curtis Frye.
Curtis like many college coaches in the 1960’s and 1970’s got his job with multiple other duties. He also served as the head coach for the ECU men’s soccer team and was director of facilities. Curtis left ECU in 1979 and went to Douglas Byrd HS where he was the head track and field coach for Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, N.C. In yesterday’s post I wrote about Bob McEvoy who was an assistant basketball coach at ECU from 1975-1976 who was at Douglas Byrd HS.
Today Curtis enters his 20th year as the University of South Carolina’s head track & field and cross-country coach. In his career at USC he has established a program that is regarded as one of the nation’s elite. Frye has coached or overseen over 60 NCAA champions, 116 SEC champions, 14 Academic All-Americans and more than 450 NCAA All-Americans.
What has made Curtis successful as a coach/teacher is a combination of being knowledgeable, hard-working, and possessing an infectious personality.
The 2015 was an exciting one for the program, which celebrated its best finish at outdoor nationals for the women since 2007 and 2010 for the men. The program crowned a national champion in Jeannelle Scheper (high jump) and saw, between indoor and outdoor, seven individuals and one relay team earn an All-America certificate.
This year has been exciting for Curtis with his dream of a brand new track facility was realized with the ground breaking of the Morris and Sheila Cregger Track Stadium, a fitting new home for South Carolina’s hall of fame head coach Curtis Frye.
(l-r) Ray Tanner-USC AD, Morris Cregger, Sheila Cregger, and Curtis Frye.
Curtis is a world-class coach and that is evident when you look at the athletes he has coached. In his career, he has coached 25 Olympians who have garnered 13 medals at the Olympic Games. Nine of his former student-athletes competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Curtis also served as an assistant coach for the 2004 USA Olympic women’s track team with responsibilities that included working with the sprinters and the relays. He also accompanied his former athletes to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Curtis has also been recognized by his peers as a leader. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association elected him their president in 2009. He was the first African-American to ever hold that position.
He got his start working with Bill Carson at East Carolina.
The Friend-CURTIS FRYE
The Friend of the Friend-BILL CARSON
The Forty Year Coaching Career
In 1969 one of my New Jersey high school teammates Paul Hoyt got a scholarship offer to attend East Carolina University from Bill Carson the Track Coach at ECU. Paul was a middle distance runner. Paul was two years ahead of me and bragged every time I saw him about ECU. He loved the campus, the weather, and the people. Little did Bill Carson know that scholarship offer to a friend named Paul Hoyt would influence me to attend ECU two years later.
Bill Carson was an interesting man that coached at ECU from 1967 to 2007. Under Coach Carson’s 40-year direction, ECU athletes advanced to the NCAA National Championships in 18 of his last 19 seasons. In addition, he produced 70 All-America selections. His teams brought home the hardware.
Bill Carson, a native of Weirton, W.Va., was a graduate of Weir High School where he was a state champion sprinter on the track team. He received an undergraduate Degree in Forestry from West Virginia University, running track all four years. For two years he worked with the US Forestry Service in Oregon. In 1965 he served as head track and field coach at Furman University for one season. He then went to the University of Florida to get his Master’s Degree. He spent one year as a High School Coach before he came to ECU. On July 2, 2012 he passed away.
Bill Carson just like Curtis Frye also had special athletes. During his tenure Carson coached standout athletes that included Lee McNeill and LaShawn Merritt.
McNeill was a five-time All-America selection at ECU before going on to represent the United States at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where he competed for Team USA on the 4×100-meter relay team.
Merritt was an Olympic gold medalist in the 400m and 4x400m and won the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in the 400m. He also won the World Outdoor title in 2009 and took silver in 2011.