Nov. 24, 2004
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – – University of South Carolina freshman walk-on wide receiver Tim Frisby (Allentown, Pa.) as been named the recipient of the 2004 Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, given annually to college football’s most inspirational student-athlete or team. The award will be presented by NFL Hall of Famer and current Disney Sports Attractions executive Kellen Winslow as part of ESPN’s live broadcast of The Home Depot 2004 College Football Awards at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 9. The 14th annual awards show is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. ET.
Frisby, a 20-year Army veteran and father of six, receives the 2004 Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award for having the passion and determination to achieve his dream of playing college football at the age of 39 years old. Nicknamed “Pops” by his South Carolina coaches and teammates, Frisby contacted Gamecocks head coach Lou Holtz about a tryout during 2004 spring drills. Frisby made the most of this unique opportunity, earning a spot on the team as a walk-on and playing in two games this fall.
Frisby served in the Army from 1984-2004, including Desert Storm and during the Kosovo conflict as a Ranger-qualified member of the 82nd Airborne. When Frisby completed his military career, he was determined to achieve his longtime goal of playing college football. Enrolled as a full-time student at South Carolina, Frisby became eligible to play football this fall through the NCAA military exemption.
“Tim Frisby has proven that all dreams are attainable, and we are proud to honor him with the Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award,” said Reggie Williams, former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker and current vice president of Disney Sports Attractions. “Frisby has exemplified spirit, determination and courage throughout his military career, his family life, the pursuit of his education and on the football field. He has set a great example for his teammates, his children and us all.”
A natural athlete, Frisby played football and basketball at Allentown Catholic and Dieruff high schools growing up in Pennsylvania. Upon graduating from Dieruff in 1983, Frisby gave up a basketball scholarship to Tennessee State to join the Army, an experience he felt would make him more mature.
Frisby was stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., from 1984-88, some of the most successful years in Gamecock football history, so he quickly became a South Carolina fan. During this time, Frisby satisfied his ongoing passion for sports by competing in football and basketball Army leagues.
In the fall of 2002, Frisby began taking classes at South Carolina while serving in the military. Knowing he would go to school full-time after his retirement from the service, he began to explore the walk-on process for the Gamecocks football team and kept himself in top physical shape.
During 2004 spring drills, Frisby, now a full-time student, received permission for a tryout from head football coach Lou Holtz and began working out with the Gamecocks. At 6-1, 188 lbs., Frisby resembled a twentysomething college student more than a 39-year-old military veteran. And the same could be said for his football abilities, as he played well enough to make the team. In all, it took Frisby’s South Carolina teammates four weeks to learn his actual age. Hearing the news in disbelief, a teammate actually asked Frisby for his driver’s license to confirm that the rumor was true. Once it was confirmed, wide receivers coach Rick Stockstill coined the “Pops” nickname.
Even after Frisby made the team, his playing status remained on hold until the NCAA Clearinghouse — which was not in existence when Frisby graduated from high school — finally considered his request and cleared him to play under the NCAA military exemption. With all the necessary obstacles behind him, Frisby saw game action in the Gamecocks’ 17-7 win over Troy University on Sept. 25, appearing in four plays in the closing moments. He also appeared in the season finale against in-state rival Clemson.
“It takes a special individual to do what Tim has done, and the same thing that drove him to become an Army Ranger is the same thing that drove him to become a Gamecock football player,” said Holtz. “His making this team was not a case of me saying it would be a great story to have a 39-year-old on the team. He earned it and we love having `Pops’ on our football team. He is an inspiration to us all.”
Away from his commitment to the South Carolina program, Frisby and wife, Anna, have six children, ranging in age from eight months to 16 years old, and live in northeast Columbia. Frisby is a rising junior academically, pursuing a broadcast journalism major. With a 3.8 grade-point average and having made countless national media appearances this fall, Frisby is aggressively pursuing a career in broadcasting.
Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award is presented annually to college football’s most inspirational individual or team. Frisby, who doggedly pursued his dream of playing college football, becomes the ninth recipient of the Disney Spirit Award, joining past honorees Daniel Huffman (1996), Dwight Collins (1997), Matt Hartl (1998), East Carolina University (1999), Hameen Ali (2000), the United States Service Academy football teams (2001), Dewayne White (2002) and Neil Parry (2003).
Huffman, a high school player in Rossville, Ill., sacrificed a promising football career to donate a kidney to his ailing grandmother. Collins, a native of Lake Charles, La., overcame his loss of hearing to meningitis at 11 months of age to earn a scholarship to the University of Central Florida as a running back. Hartl, from Denver Colo., battled Hodgkin’s disease throughout his college career as a fullback at Northwestern University, before succumbing to the illness in August 1999.
The East Carolina football team finished the season in the national rankings after overcoming the floods and devastation that affected the entire eastern North Carolina community during Hurricane Floyd in
1999. Ali overcame a troubled youth and poverty-stricken conditions to earn a football scholarship and a degree from William & Mary. The U.S. Service Academy football teams from Air Force, Army and Navy collectively received the 2001 Disney Spirit Award in recognition of their academic, athletic and military commitments following the tragic events of Sept. 11th. Dewayne White suffered the loss of his parents, two house fires and serious injury before matriculating to the University of Louisville where he earned school records for career sacks and tackles for loss, as well as the 2003 Spirit Award. Last year, Neil Parry overcame the amputation of his right leg to return to San Jose State to play in six games for the Spartans.