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Curtis Frye

Curtis Frye

Curtis Frye is entering his 27th year at the helm of the South Carolina Track & Field and Cross Country programs heading into the 2022-23 season. Frye has established a program that is regarded as one of the nation’s elite programs. Frye has coached or overseen 60 NCAA Champions, 122 SEC Champions, 21 Academic All-Americans and more than 500 NCAA All-Americans.

The 2022 campaign saw 17 All-American honors and five Honorable Mention All-Americans. During the season, Anass Essayi claimed the SEC title in the indoor mile with the first sub-4 minute mile in program history. Frye coached 23 SEC scorers and six NCAA scorers between the indoor and outdoor season in 2022, including 2021 High Jump NCAA Champion Rachel Glenn who finished third at both the indoor and outdoor high jump this past season.

Two women’s 4×400-meter relay squads finished fifth in the indoor and outdoor NCAA championship in addition to the individual success by the Gamecocks.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gamecocks returned to glory in 2019 after having their most successful campaign in over a decade. The South Carolina women’s 4x400m relay team won the national title at the NCAA Championship, while Quincy Hall won the NCAA 400m hurdles crown and Wadeline Jonathas were the women’s 400m champion in the outdoor championship. The Gamecock women finished seventh at the NCAA Indoor Championships and 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, the best finish since 2006. The Carolina men finished 20th indoors and 12th outdoors, their best finish at the NCAA level since 2010.

The 2019 season was also big for Coach Frye and the program as the Gamecocks opened a new facility as Frye’s long-held dream of a world-class indoor track became a reality. The Gamecocks hosted three home meets at the newly-renovated Carolina Indoor Track & Field Facilty, with nearly 40 student-athletes from over two dozen school achieving their national qualifying marks in Columbia.

Frye also mentored and coached the likes of Josh Awotunde who as a senior in 2018 won the SEC Indoor Championship, finished second at the SEC Outdoor Championships and earned bronze at the NCAA Indoor Championships and took silver in the outdoor meet. He set school records for both the indoor and outdoor shot put and his two All-America selections led the way as Frye’s Gamecocks finished the season with 12 All-America honors and a men’s top-25 finish. Under Frye’s tutelage there were a total of 48 new Carolina top-10 marks in 2018, including Ncincilili Titi setting the new outdoor 200m record that still stands to this day.

In 2017, Frye’s vision of a new facility for Carolina Track & Field came to fruition with the opening of the Sheila & Morris Cregger Track. The world-class facility, featuring a Mondo surface, nine lanes, and separate areas for throws, jumps and pole vaulting, immediately shot to the top of the list as the finest home facility in collegiate track & field.

Frye’s Gamecocks hosted the SEC Championships at Cregger Track in 2017 and put on a show for the home fans as senior Tyler Brockington won the SEC Championship in the women’s 400m hurdles and seven additional Gamecocks finished on the podium. That season, four Gamecocks finished as First Team All-Americans at the NCAA Indoor Championship and three more earned the honor at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. That same season, Markus Leemet (decathlon) and Tye Williams (high jump) set new Carolina outdoor records on the men’s side, while Rougui Sow (long jump) set a program record on the women’s side.

Following a successful 2016 season, Frye served as an assistant coach for the United States national team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With Frye as one of the team leaders, Team USA earned 32 track & field medals in Rio, including 13 gold medals. Four of Frye’s proteges competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, led by gold medalist Natasha Hastings. Hastings led Team USA to gold in the 4x400m relay, while Aliyah Abrams (Guyana) placed 38th in the 400m dash, Jeannelle Scheper (Saint Lucia) finished 25th in the high jump and Kierre Beckles (Barbados) came in 24th in the 100m hurdles. Scheper was fresh off a national championship in the high jump during the 2015 season under Frye’s watch.

Frye’s impact on track & field was culminated in December of 2013 as he was enshrined in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame. Earlier that fall, Frye was also inducted into the Sandhills Community College Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, N.C. He is also a former President of the USTFCCCA and is currently a non-voting member of the organization’s Board of Directors.

In October 2008, Frye was bestowed the Order of Ikkos Medallion, presented by the United States Olympic Committee. A special order reserved for the coach of an Olympic or Paralympic medalist, Frye received the honor after coaching Jerome Singleton, Jr. to a silver medal in the men’s 100-meter dash at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Later that year, he received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina to recognize lifetime achievement and service to the state.

One of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Frye brought South Carolina its first team NCAA championship in any sport when his women’s team captured the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championship crown. Frye is a three-time United States Track Coaches Association (USTCA) National Coach of the Year, taking home the 1999 and 2002 women’s outdoor honors and the 1999 men’s indoor honors. In taking home the men’s indoor and women’s outdoor coach of the year honors in 1999, he became the first person in the history of the USTCA to win the award indoors and outdoors in the same year. In 2001, he earned the prestigious Nike Coach of the Year award and was also named the 1997 USOC Track & Field Coach of the Year. Frye is also a three-time SEC Coach of the Year with the honor coinciding with his three women’s outdoor conference championships in 1999, 2002 and 2005. At the beginning of the 2019 season, Frye was awarded the USATF’s Education Standard for his past work with the U.S. national team.

During his tenure at South Carolina, Frye has coached 14 SEC Athletes of the Year, the most recent being Ncincilili Titi, who was named the 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year (outdoor). He has also coached five national athletes of the year in Hastings (2007-overall), Demetria Washington (2002-indoor), Lashinda Demus (2002-overall), Terrence Trammell (2000-outdoor) and Miki Barber (2000-outdoor). Demus was acknowledged by Track & Field News while the United States Track & Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) honored the other four recipients.

On the women’s side, Frye’s teams have placed in the top-ten nationally outdoors in ten different seasons at Carolina. In addition to the team title in 2002, his teams earned the silver medal in 2005 and took home the bronze in 2003 and 2006. On the men’s side, Frye’s team placed in the top-25 nationally indoors on 12 occasions and in the top 20 nine times outdoors.

Along with continued success on the track, Frye has produced winners in the classroom on a consistent basis. Frye’s athletes have earned four USTFCCCA National Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in addition to five SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. Jason Richardson swept the indoor and outdoor national honors in 2008, following awards earned by 2006 National Indoor Scholar Athlete of the Year Shalonda Solomon and 2002 National Scholar Athlete of the Year Otukile Lekote. Marvin Reitze earned the 2012 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award while Natasha Hastings (’07), Jeannelle Scheper (’15), Ncincilili Titi (’18) and Aliyah Abrams (’19) have also won the award. In 2009, the men’s team was named Scholar Team of the Year.

In his career, Frye has coached 28 Olympians who have garnered 14 medals at the Olympic Games. Nine of his former student-athletes competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, six of them as first-time Olympians. In addition to 2016 Rio Olympics, Frye 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. Frye’s athletes won three gold medals in 2004 by Tonique Williams-Darling (Bahamas-400m), Otis Harris (USA-4x400m relay) and Aleen Bailey (Jamaica-4x100m relay). At the London 2012 Olympics, the total increased by two as Demus (400m hurdles) and Richardson (110m hurdles) claimed silver for the United States.

Frye spent the summer of 2015 coaching Team USA in Russia. First, the Gamecock traveled to Kazan as the Team USA men’s head coach for the World University Games. A short time later, he traveled to Moscow as an assistant coach for the IAAF World Championships to work with the men’s sprints and hurdles. The sprint and hurdle group medaled in every event of the meet, capturing three gold medals.

Never one to sit on the sidelines, Frye established the Frye Foundation after his family was devastated by diabetes. The foundation is dedicated to assisting those dealing with diabetes and mental illness. Each year, they host a 5K run/walk as well as a golf tournament and silent auction.

Hired at South Carolina on July 29, 1996, Frye came to Columbia after serving as assistant head coach at North Carolina for four years. During his tenure at UNC, he was a part of 13 ACC championship teams.

Prior to his stint with the Tar Heels, Frye was an assistant coach at Florida from 1988 to 1992. While with the Gator program, he coached three NCAA individual champions and one relay champion team. In total, 29 All-America certificates were earned while Frye was in Gainesville.

From 1984 to 1988, Frye was an assistant coach for N.C. State, aiding the Wolfpack to four conference championships. He was instrumental in leading State to 27 All-America honors, four individual NCAA second-place finishes and 37 conference champions.

Frye began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, East Carolina, in 1974. He also served as head coach for the men’s soccer team and was director of facilities. Frye took a break from the collegiate ranks from 1979 to 1984 when he was head track and field coach for Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, N.C.

Frye and his wife, Wilma, have three children: Crystal, C.J. and Curtrell.