Oct. 14, 2014
By Brad Muller | More Features
South Carolina fans may know Patrick Fish as one half of the "Fish-Fry" combination. He is the holder for placekicker Elliott Fry on Gamecock extra points and field goal attempts. What most fans don't know is that the fiery guy on the sidelines with the long reddish-blonde hair and beard is a subdued and generous student-athlete off the field, who has already earned his degree in sport and entertainment management, and couldn't resist taking more classes to have one more season as a Gamecock.
"It's college football," Fish said. "I don't see how you could ever pass that up. I still get goose bumps every time I run out on the field. I still go crazy. I'm a holder, but I get just as wild as the linebackers and running backs."
Fish grew up around football as his father, Woody Fish, is a former head football coach at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina and had also spent some time on the Duke University football staff before returning to Gardner-Webb in a fundraising position for the athletics department. Growing up with a coach in the family, there were conversations about playing for his father.
"We joked around about it a lot," Fish said. "We thought it would be a good time, but we knew we'd butt heads a little bit."
Having a father in the coaching profession was difficult at times, but Fish appreciates the support his dad has given him.
"When he was at Gardner-Webb as the head coach, he sort of made his own hours so we could see him more often," Fish said. "When he went to Duke, he never made it to one of my middle school games, so one of the main reasons he went back to Gardner-Webb was because he wanted to see me play all through high school and now he's at our games here every Saturday. I really appreciate that he's always there."
While he certainly is appreciative and enjoys what it means to be a part of the South Carolina football program, he is also serious about other off the field business and regularly volunteers for team community service events. Although it is an event aimed at South Carolina freshmen football student-athletes, Fish has volunteered for the "Pigskin Poets" program every year he has been in school.
"That's definitely my favorite event by far just because we get to reach out to all the kids in the community and read to them," Fish said. "They always get pumped up when they see us in our jerseys. They sort of look up to us, so I never wanted to miss that one."
"It's college football. I don't see how you could ever pass that up. I still get goose bumps every time I run out on the field."
Fish has also participated in other community service events, such as a dinner with children from Children's Chance, a non-profit which strives to improve the lives of children and families who are dealing with pediatric cancer, as well as the an annual Thanksgiving dinner with youngsters from a local children's home.
"For one of our classes, Dylan (Thompson) and I set up a community service event over at the children's home," Fish said. "We held a small football camp for some of the little guys, so that was pretty fun. It's awesome because I always looked up to my dad's players when I was younger, and I wanted to be just like them. So we're just trying to set a good example for all the kids in the community. We just try to be their friends and talk about whatever they want to talk about and what's going on with them. Some of those kids just need friends and someone to show that they care about them."
Fish added that one of the messages they bring to the children is how hard work and perseverance can pay off. From this angle, he practices what he preaches.
"I was on scholarship for my first two years as a punter, and I wasn't really doing anything, so I lost my scholarship," Fish said. "I completely understood it. I told myself I could either go somewhere else or I could stay here and try to fight for a scholarship, or at least playing time. It's just how my parents raised me. So I worked as hard as I could and became good at holding and Coach (Steve) Spurrier was gracious enough to give me a scholarship in the middle of last year. I was so thankful for it."
Fish spends much of practice each day working with Fry and long snapper Ryland Culbertson. While he enjoys his role and understands the importance of protecting himself for the benefit of the team, he wouldn't mind having the opportunity to get involved with some of collisions on the field from time to time.
"I definitely want to get out there," Fish laughed. "I grew up a football player, and I want to go out there and hit some guys. I doubt that will ever happen, but I've definitely mentioned it to other coaches. Last year in the (Capital One) Bowl game against Wisconsin, we had a low snap so I had to run and try to take it in and I got absolutely drilled."
While that play may not have made anyone's highlight reel, he did become a social media sensation for a kicking trick-shot last year, spinning a football with his feet before kicking it through the uprights at practice. As for the "Fish-Fry" combination, he doesn't mind the attention.
"Our kicking net at Vanderbilt was right in front of the student section and they were just tearing into us," Fish laughed. "They had a `Fish-Fry' chant going at one time. We were laughing about it the whole time. We'll catch some heat from the away game fans, but it's sort of caught on here in Columbia too, so it's all good."
Fish's hard work and dedication hasn't gone unnoticed this year as he was named a team captain for the game against East Carolina.
"I've worked hard and I've tried to be a leader on the team as much as possible," Fish said. "But I know my role. I'm a holder and that's what I'm here to do. Being a captain for a game was awesome. I really respect Coach Spurrier."
Right now his goal is to help the Gamecocks win and have a successful season. After he takes off the garnet and black uniform for the final time, he has thoughts about following his father's footsteps and becoming a coach.
"I feel like I have such a strong grasp on our special teams' schemes and things like that," Fish said. "Maybe I could eventually be a special teams coordinator. I think that would be awesome."
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