INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – South Carolina head track and field coach Curtis Frye will have a chance to add to an already-impressive international coaching career, as he was named to the Team USA men’s coaching staff for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Wednesday afternoon. Frye will serve as an assistant, overseeing the sprint and hurdle events.
“This has been a big week for me,” said Frye. “It started with me hearing the bulldozers beginning to work our new track facility, then Jussi (Kanervo) earned his country’s only medal at the European U23 Championship, then I get a call the next night saying I’ll be working with Team USA.”
The role of a national team coach is different on the Olympic level, with duties that emphasize coordination and planning as much as “X’s and O’s” coaching. His first Olympics with the national team came as a member of the women’s staff at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, and that and his own experience sending his Gamecock student-athletes to the event has given him insight into the job that very few coaches can offer.
While at Carolina, Frye has coached 25 Olympians who have garnered 13 medals at past Olympic Games. In his most recent post with Team USA, Frye oversaw the sprints and hurdles at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. His group won a medal in every event, taking home nine medals in total (three gold). Earlier in his career he served as head coach of the national team at the 2001 Goodwill Games.
Also, in 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.
With the upcoming season being his 20th overall at Carolina, his impact in Columbia has been just as great. Frye has coached over 60 NCAA champions, 116 SEC champions, 14 Academic All-Americans and more than 450 NCAA All-Americans. He may see some friendly faces while with Team USA, as a handful of former Gamecocks have a chance to earn a spot on the team this summer during the IAAF World Championships (competing for head coach Delethea Quarles).
“It gives me personal pride for having an athlete you’ve coached participate in the biggest event in the world,” Frye said. “Track is the one sport where the world is truly represented, it’s an honor to be a part of its biggest event.”
Southern Illinois head coach Connie Price-Smith and TrackTown USA president and University of Oregon associate athletic director Vin Lananna will serve as the respective women’s and men’s head coaches for Team USA in Rio.
“As I reflect on this position, I’m honored and proud to represent the University of South Carolina and the entire Gamecock Nation, my home state North Carolina, the city of Columbia, and of course my family who supports me,” Frye added. “It’s a fantastic reward to be recognized and have a chance to work with the team. As an assistant you support the head. You’ll have a lot of roles, but my job now is making sure our athletes have the greatest experience possible.”