U.P.'s Frye Honored by NCHSAA
Q and A With John Frye
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Throughout recent history, the Union Pines tennis program has proved to be virtually as reliable as Jack Nicklaus' putter whenever the Golden Bear faced a must-make on the 18th green.
The one constant in the equation for Union Pines' unparalleled success in boys' and girls' tennis has been head coach John S. Frye.
Last week, Frye received the inaugural Charlie Adams Distinguished Service Award for his diligent service and commitment to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Union Pines principal Robin Lea said she was honored to announce that Frye received the award for his exceptional involvement and effort on behalf of student-athletes.
"We are most fortunate to have John Frye," said Lea. "For more than four decades, he has made a positive impact on so many adolescents in the Union Pines community - including this principal.
"As a mother, it has been an immense privilege for all three of my children to have the opportunity to study with this wonderful person, just as I did many years ago. His teachings go far beyond the subject matter. He instills a love of learning that feeds a child's passion to explore and a person does not readily forget those experiences."
Frye is a member of the Union Pines Athletic Hall of Fame, and the school's tennis facility bears his name.
"Head coach John Frye's tennis teams have long been the Union Pines athletic program's pinnacle of excellence," said Lea. "For more than two decades now, the Vikings and Lady Vikings have been staples at the top of their conference - year in and year out."
The Union Pines boys' won 10 consecutive conference tennis championships from 1986-1995 and tallied five straight titles from 1997 through 2001. The Vikings also accumulated three consecutive crowns twice from 70-72 and 82-84.
In 1993, the Union Pines boys' tennis team won the 1A/2A state championship with an undefeated record of 21-0. Over a four-year period, that team went 92-3 and competed in the state championship each year and won twice.
Last season, the 2010 Viking boys' claimed their fifth-straight league title with an undefeated CFVC record. Meanwhile, the current Union Pines Lady Vikings just clinched their sixth-straight CFVC crown and are currently undefeated at 11-0 in league play.
Upon receiving the award, Frye's focus was on his Viking players and Union Pines' family.
"At the presentation, some highlights of the past 40 years of Viking tennis were shown," Frye said, "including the hundreds of victories that our teams have amassed. As Que Tucker (NCHSAA deputy director) smiled her congratulations, my thought was - my players have been marvelous."
"My first thoughts also centered on the marvelous support hierarchy we have at Union Pines," Frye said. "From Robin Lea and the administration, to athletic director Bobby Purvis, as well as the collection of parents, players and the community support that undergirds and promotes the program. All these people had a huge hand in this coming to fruition."
The fact that the award was an accumulative recognition made it most significant for Frye.
"This honor represents a broad span of years that I have been privileged to work with our young men and women at Union Pines," said Frye. "Scanning backward, I remember, so clearly, coaching indigent, starry-eyed freshmen who came into the tennis program hoping to make an impact on court in spite of not having previous tennis experience. Many of these came without equipment, often lacking racquets and shoes, but they came nonetheless, wanting to be part of something special.
"It was challenging, to say the least, working with novices and fitting them into the program, but it is surprising how many became good players before graduating, and more than a few made significant contributions to the championships that the school has accumulated - and more importantly, all became better citizens.
"At the other end of the spectrum are the players, seemingly born racquet in hand, who have graced the courts these past four decades. These are the elitist athletes, many having gone on to play collegiate tennis. They, for the most part, have carried the school to its myriad championships and made Union Pines visible statewide.
"A heterogeneous mix to be sure, but like the flavors offered by a spice rack, each has added to the savory concoction that is Union Pines tennis."
Frye emphasized the weight he feels high school sports carry in shaping student-athletes.
"Athletic competition is a win-win exercise for young people." he said. "The carry-over between sports and the business community is phenomenal. Victories are gathered on court and on the playing fields only to be followed by additional wins in the vocational realm.
"This is not Facebook, cell phones, iPods, or the cinema. The excitement that comes and the satisfaction that accrues when an athlete has stretched himself to the limits is infinitely more fascinating, more filling and enduring - and can never be matched by wireless and cyberspace."
Frye admitted several people along the way played key roles in his life as a coach and teacher, saying, "If my tennis vision is adequate, it is because I have stood on my family and friends' shoulders."
"My wife, Brenda, has never wavered in her support and encouragement." Frye said. "A wonderful athlete, she coached championship basketball and tennis teams at Vass-Lakeview (middle) for over 20 years. In that time she sent superlative athletes to Union Pines, all of whom benefited by her expertise as a teacher and coach.
"Over the past dozen years, our daughter, Jane Hart at New Century Middle School, has coached numerous championship tennis teams, her players, like her mother's, feeding into Union Pines.
"In my early years as a coach, Terrell West, a tennis professional graciously took me under his tennis wing. He willingly and selflessly shared from a copious storehouse of knowledge to assist me with coaching strategies, drill formations and personalizing individual skill development.
"Al Van Vliet, the head tennis professional at CCNC, has likewise been most generous with his advice and expertise."
A full transcript of Frye's interview with The Pilot will be available on thepilot.com.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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