Now in his eighth year as head cross country and track and field coach at South Carolina, Curtis Frye has established a program that is widely regarded as one of the nation's elite. In 2003, he guided his women's team to its eighth consecutive top-10 outdoor finish, a claim that can only be made by two other schools, while his men's team finished in the top-10 outdoors for the second straight year. During the 2003 indoor season, the Carolina women placed second at the NCAA Championships, finishing in the top-five for the fourth consecutive season. The Gamecock men's team finished fourth, their highest finish since fourth-place in 1999. Additionally, Frye's women's team finished atop the United States Track Coaches Association's "Team Power Rankings" for the indoor season, the first "poll title" for USC.
Individually, Frye had three women win NCAA individual titles in 2003: Aleen Bailey in both the100 and 200m outdoors and Lashinda Demus in the 400m indoor. A pair of USC athletes combined to collect three U.S. Junior Championships (Kenneth Ferguson 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles; Tawana Watkins 400m hurdles) and represented Team USA in the Junior Pan American Games.
Additionally, Bailey went on to earn SEC Outdoor Athlete of the Year while Ferguson was named the conference's Freshman of the Year.
Frye also coached athletes to international success in 2003 at the World Championships in Paris. Allen Johnson won an unprecedented fourth title in the 110m hurdles while USC alum Terrence Trammell placed second in the event. Former Gamecocks Lisa Barber and Demetria Washington helped Team USA claim the 4x400 relay crown.
Away from the track, Frye collected several honors in 2003. He gained prestigious selection as one of five honorary referees, wearing the "yellow hat" at the Penn Relays. Furthermore, he was bestowed with honorary life membership by the Carolina Alumni Association and was honored by the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame with a special achievement award in addition to being named to Team USA's 2004 Olympic track and field coaching staff.
Continuing to build a program on the national and international level, Frye saw years of hard work pay off in 2002. The women carried home the national championship trophy from the NCAA Outdoor Championships, South Carolina's first national championship in any sport. This finish made the USC women one of three programs, nationally, to finish in the top 10 for the past seven years. The women also carried home the championship trophy from the 2002 SEC Outdoor Championships.
In 2002, the men were in the top 10 indoors and outdoors, finishing sixth in both. That tied their best finish in school history. The two programs crowned three NCAA individual champions in Lashinda Demus (400m Hurdles, Outdoors) and Otukile Lekote (800m, Indoors and Outdoors); and also saw its women's 4x400m relay set the collegiate outdoor record with its national title victory. The women's 4x400m indoors relay team, the women's 4x100m outdoors relay team, and the men's 4x400m relay team also won national championships. The two teams combined to collect over 52 All-American honors and put 33 on the SEC Academic Honor Roll, as well.
Frye also earned 2002 National Coach of the Year and SEC Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year honors. In addition, Demetria Washington was named the National Indoor Female Athlete of the Year, while Track and Field News tabbed Lashinda Demus as its National Female Athlete of the Year. Otukile Lekote was named National Scholar Athlete of the Year.
For his efforts, Frye has been named Assistant Coach to the United States Olympic Track and Field Team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Frye was also named the 1999 SEC Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year. Recognized as one of the top sprint coaches in the country, Frye was an assistant coach for the United States at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain. Frye was named the women's regional Coach of the Year in 2000. This follows up his 1999 Men's Indoor National Coach of the Year and the 1999 Women's Outdoor National Coach of the Year.
Year after year, Frye has continued to lead the Gamecock men's and women's track and field programs to national prominence. For his efforts, he also was named the Outdoor U.S.T.C.A., Region Coach of the Year in 1998 and the 1997 USATF and USOC Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Frye entered the 2002 season with the best recruiting class the South Carolina women's track and field program has ever seen, including nine stars who made an immediate impact on the success of the team. This class was heralded by Track & Field News as the No.1 class in the country. Aleen Bailey, Khalilah Carpenter, Lashinda Demus, Keri Groover, Jenny Lake, Shevon Stoddart, Alexis Joyce, Tiffany Ross and Erica Whipple made up the highly-anticipated recruiting class.
Athletes from Coach Frye's founding organization, Speed Elite, won or placed in the top eight at the 2002 USATF Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Leading the way was Allen Johnson who won both indoor and outdoor hurdles. Other Speed Elite finishes consisted of Terrence Trammell, won 60m dash, second in 110mH outdoors and the 60m hurdles indoors; Melissa Morrison, won 60 mH indoors, sixth in 100mH outdoors; Monique Hennagan, 400m champion; Pap Howard, sixth in 200m; Dawn Ellerbe, second in weight throw indoors and second in hammer outdoors.
Already recognized as one of the nation's top coaches, Frye and the elite athletes he coached in 2001 had an extraordinary year, which earned Frye the prestigious 2001 Nike Coach of the Year Award. Allen Johnson won his third World Championship gold medal in the 110m hurdles, his fourth U. S. Outdoor crown in this event, as Frye sent a total of 11 athletes to the 2001 World Championships. Adding more coaching honors to his distinguished list, Coach Frye was the men's coach for the United States at the 2001 Goodwill Games. He coached Johnson and Terrence Trammell to Championships in their respective events. Johnson won the 110m hurdles, while Trammell won the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships.
The 2000 season was another stellar year for Frye as the women's indoor team finished the season with an unprecedented second place finish at the NCAA Championships. The outdoor women's team successfully finished second at the SEC meet and also went on to finish sixth at the NCAA Championships.
The men's outdoor team finished the season with an 11th place showing at the NCAA Championships. Indoors, the men behind Terrence Trammell's 20 points, finished eighth. The Gamecock men and the Arkansas Razorbacks are the only two teams nationally to finish in the top 10 four straight years at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
To conclude the 2000 season, USC standouts Terrence Trammell and Miki Barber were both named National Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of Year for 2000. For his efforts, Frye was named the women's regional coach of the year.
But, Frye wasn't done yet as he accompanied 12 current or former USC athletes and coaches to the Sydney Olympics. His athletes brought home four medals: a gold to volunteer coach Monique Hennagan (USA 4x400m relay); a silver for alum Charmaine Howell (Jamaica 4x400m relay); a silver for Terrence Trammell (USA 110m hurdles) and a bronze for volunteer coach Melissa Morrison (USA 100m hurdles).
In 1999, Frye took the Gamecocks to unprecedented success as the women won the SEC Outdoor Championship. The women were a school-best third at the SEC Indoor Championship. After finishing fourth indoors, the women were seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The men finished in the top-six both indoors and outdoors. Bringing home a trophy for its fourth place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the men finished sixth outdoors. The men finished a school-best second at the SEC Indoor Championships and were sixth outdoors.
The two programs combined to set 35 school records. The Gamecocks won three individual NCAA titles, an NCAA relay title, 14 SEC titles and crowned 29 All-Americans. USC also featured two Academic All-Americans in Keith Hall and Michelle Fournier. Hall, who went on to Emory Medical School, was a finalist for the SEC's Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athlete, winning a $5000 postgraduate scholarship. Fournier was granted an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship. For the efforts of Frye and his staff in 1999, Frye was named the Men's Indoor National Coach of the Year and the Women's Outdoor National Coach of the Year. Frye was also named the SEC Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year. It is the first time in the history of the U.S.T.C.A. a coach has won the award indoors (men) and outdoors (women).
"We have outstanding support from Athletics Director Mike McGee, all the way down the line," said Frye. "Our track and field staff includes an academic counselor, a number of highly qualified trainers, a massage therapist, a sports psychologist and a public relations specialist. We have collected a number of titles and awards due to hard work throughout the entire university."
Recognized as one of the top sprint coaches in the country, Frye was an assistant coach for the United States at the 1999 World Track and Field Championships in Seville, Spain. In Spain, Frye assisted in coaching the sprinters and hurdlers. But, equally as impressive was that Frye assisted U.S. race walker Curt Clausen (NYAC) to a fourth place finish at the World Championships, the highest finish since 1972 for a U.S. race walker.
In 1998, his second year at Carolina, Frye led the Gamecock men's and women's track and field programs to national prominence. Indoors, the Gamecock men were seventh and the women finished 11th at the NCAA Championships. Outdoors, the two teams flipped places as the women finished seventh and the men 11th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. For his efforts he was named the Outdoor U.S.T.C.A. Region Coach of the Year in 1998. Individually, Carolina won four NCAA titles, 13 SEC titles and garnered 23 All-American honors indoors and outdoors.
In his first season at Carolina, 1997, Frye hit the ground running and the fruits of his labors paid off as the women's track and field team finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships and fifth Outdoors. The men also had an impressive track and field season, finishing seventh indoors, with a team that had no seniors. Frye was named both the 1997 USATF and USOC Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Frye, who has coached or overseen over 50 NCAA National Champion student-athletes and over 300 NCAA All-Americans, was hired on July 29, 1996 -- the same day his pupil Allen Johnson won the gold medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1996 Summer Olympics -- setting the Olympic record.
In a new event in 1998, Johnson was the runner-up in the 200m at the USATF Championships and the runner-up in the 4x100m relay World Cup. Johnson continued his hot streak in 1997, as he won the World Championships again. Johnson was the only male athlete to win two gold medals at the World Championships in Greece as he ran a leg of the gold medal winning 4x400 m relay and won the 110 m hurdles.
Johnson was rewarded for his efforts in December 1997 when he won the Jesse Owens Award. Frye coached both the men's 110m hurdles and the women's 100m hurdles USATF National champions, as Melissa Morrison won her first title. In 1998, Morrison improved her world ranking to No. 3 and obtained a personal best of 12.53 in the 100m hurdles under the third year of Frye's tutelage.
In addition to his work with Morrison and Johnson, Frye has also overseen the development of a new training club in South Carolina, Speed Elite. The club, founded in 1996, was formerly known as South Carolina Elite. Speed Elite includes a number of outstanding former collegiate athletes who are NCAA, SEC, ACC, Southwest Conference, US and World Champions. Since its inception in 1996, the group has crowned eight US champions, two World Champions, a World Championship bronze medalist and saw an American record fall in the women's 4x400m relay indoors. The club shows Frye's commitment to furthering the athletes' career after their college eligibility is finished.
"Having Speed Elite and the kind of athletes that are training here provides us an opportunity for our athletes to see what can happen through hard work and dreams. I look for a number of these athletes to make an impact on their countries' Olympic movements in the years ahead," said Frye. "Sometimes we have to do things for the sport outside of what we do for our own university teams. This is my commitment to giving back to a sport that has given so much to me."
Frye, a master recruiter, again saw the fruits of his labor pay off in 1998 as he signed some of the nation's top talent. That year Track and Field News ranked USC's women's class No. 3 in the nation. This class included Char Foster, Tacita Bass and SEC champions Demetria Washington, Ellakisha Williamson, Miki and Me'Lisa Barber. That class, which broke 14 school records, propelled USC to the SEC Outdoor title and its fourth top 10 finish in a row at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Frye came to the Gamecocks after four years as the Assistant Head Coach at the University of North Carolina, where he headed up the sprints, hurdles and relays. At the 1996 NCAA Outdoor Championships, he helped coach UNC's men to fourth place and the women's team to fifth place -- its highest finishes ever. He also saw the men capture the NCAA 4x100m relay title. During Frye's tenure at UNC, he was part of 13 Atlantic Coast Conference championship teams and helped coach 21 NCAA Indoor qualifiers and 24 Outdoor qualifiers in 1996 alone.
Prior to his stint at UNC, Frye coached at the University of Florida from 1988-1992. While with the Gator program, he coached three NCAA individual and one relay champion as the Gators claimed 29 All-America honors. One of Frye's top proteges at Florida, Dennis Mitchell, won the 100m at the U.S. Trials in 1992 and went on to earn a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics. Mitchell, a captain of the 1996 Olympic team, was a member of the 4x100m relay team that won the silver medal for the USA in 1996. In addition to Mitchell, Frye helped coach Earl Diamond, the 1989 NCAA 55m hurdles champion, and Tyrone Kemp, the collegiate record holder in the 400m.
Prior to coaching at UF, he served four years as an assistant coach at N.C. State. While in Raleigh, the Wolfpack won four ACC titles and the 4 x 100m relay won the 1985 national title. Frye helped lead the Pack to 27 All-America honors, four individual NCAA runner-up finishes and 37 conference champions.
While coaching at Florida and N.C. State, he also served as a coach on the Junior National Team in 1989. He was the Director of the Junior Olympic Nationals in 1988 and was a member of the Olympic Sports Festival coaching staff in 1991.
A native of Vass, N.C., Frye graduated from East Carolina in 1974 with a degree in physical education. Following graduation, he served as an assistant track coach at ECU and also was head coach of the men's soccer team. Frye was also the director of facilities while at ECU. In 1978, he became the head track coach at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, NC. He coached at Byrd for six years, also assisting with football and basketball where he coached former Carolina football star Brad Edwards and former Clemson star Donnell Woolford. In 1980, he was named the North Carolina State High School Coach of the Year.
Remarkably, Frye, his wife Wilma, daughter Curtrell and son Curtis II, all were born on October 20. The date is also Frye and his wife's wedding anniversary. Their daughter, Crystal, was born on December 26. All three children graduated with honors from Irmo High School and continue to enjoy outstanding careers. Crystal qualified for the ECAC for the first time in her career, throwing a personal best 45' in the shot put. She was a top scorer in the Colonial Conference. She attended Frye's alma mater East Carolina University where she improved to 47' 11 in 2001.
In 1999, Curtrell repeated as the 400m hurdles, triple jump and 100m hurdles state champion and was the runner-up in the long jump. She led her team to two state titles in her three years at Irmo High School. She is currently competing at the University of Virginia as a heptathlete where she scored 16 points at last year's ACC meet. She was rated one of the top female athletes of the 1990's.
The two-time heavyweight state wrestling champion, CJ had a career record in high school of 120-12. He also won two state discus titles. An all-state defensive tackle, Frye played in the 1998 Shrine Bowl. He wore No. 58 for the Gamecock football team and was a four-year letterwinner. CJ was a member of the football squad that defeated Ohio State in both the 2001 and 2002 Outback Bowls in Tampa, Fla.
Currently, CJ is a graduate assistant coach for the Gamecocks serving on Lou Holtz's staff after earning a master's degree in mathematics at South Carolina State. Crystal and Curtrell are in Sherman Chiropractic School in Spartanburg, S.C.
One of the USA's Best Coaches
The Curtis Frye File