Rotary News: Centre’s Coach Frye guest speaker for Rotary Club last week

By DAVE FAIRCHILD

Danville Rotary

Andy Frye, head football coach at Centre since 1998, is the winningest coach in Centre history.  He gave his annual outlook for the coming season to the Rotary Club of Danville on Aug. 4.  Coach Frye has established a program rich in tradition and success at Centre, with a strong alumni base and broad community support. He is known for his focus on team morale, “…all things equal, the team with the best morale usually wins the battle.” Coach Frye is also widely known for saying, “We are not going to debate this, because you would win. So, this is how it going to be!”

“First of all I would like to introduce my wife, Cindy, she really runs the program. Usually a couple of hours after a game, she will ask me why I did this and why I did that … and why it was a poor choice. My defense is to tell her she had three hours to think about that decision, I only had 25 seconds.

“Let’s start with a little overview of our season. In May, we went to Ireland and played the Belfast Trojans, an American Football team founded in 2006 and member of the Irish American Football League. You probably would be surprised to learn how popular American football is overseas. If you go to any major city in Europe, there will be from one to three American football programs there.  They are professional teams, but it’s not the same caliber of play that we have here. There are usually four to six Americans playing on the team, who are generally paid a stipend for the season. I would say that Germany and British probably play at the highest level and it is a pretty good skill level. The Ireland Trojans are probably 3-4 years behind the Europeans in their proficiency.

“This was our second season to play in Ireland. We have played in Great Briton too, but enjoy Ireland more. They really love Americans and their enthusiasm for the game makes it fun for our players. It’s interesting that when I meet someone in Ireland, they inevitably ask, are you from Boston. You all know that our country is quite a bit larger than Boston, but when you consider that there is probably five and a half million Irish in Boston and most of them have extended families with connections back to Ireland. So, with that said, let me get to my point.

“We go overseas every three years for a number of reasons, but probably the two biggest are:

Each season we get fifteen practice sessions in tee shirts and shorts, but when we go overseas we get ten extra spring practice sessions and they are in pads. I think that gives us an advantage. In Division III football there are 235 teams playing for one championship. I have noticed that every year we go overseas, we do well the following season. I think the additional time to evaluate players and try changing personal is an advantage. Once we get to preseason, we don’t have time to fully explore player evaluation, because we have to hit the ground running to be ready for the first game.

Even more important, it’s an incredible experience for our student athletes and for the overall morale of our football team.  To be overseas and share a unique experience playing a game you enjoy and get a chance to interact with players and fans from a different culture. Most of us take back a life changing moment that we will never forget.

“Switching gears, I’m sure most of you know that we had a tragic accident during this year’s trip to Ireland.  After the game, the team was taking a few days sightseeing tour, when a terrifying accident happened at the Cliffs of Moher, located in County Clare on the West Ireland coast.  Four players chose to descend the Cliffs of Moher with Coach Carter Conley, our defensive coordinator. The cliffs reach about 700-feet, but the coach and wide receiver Noah Dziedzic  fell about 25 feet from a trail near the base. We think that Coach Conley slipped and Noah tried to catch him, but was unable to keep both of them from falling.

“Another of my players was able to get cell service, which is amazing because cell service is not available at the Cliffs of Moher.  Then he did what we all would do, he called 911. They don’t have 911 service in Ireland, but his call was picked up by a police station who handed it off to the Irish Coast Guard who asked, ‘Where are you?’ Colin said, ‘I’m at the Cliffs of Moher,’ which is like from here to Harrodsburg. Fortunately he was then able to see a ship nearby and read the number on the ship’s bow and the Coast Guard was able to coordinate the number with the ship’s position and send a Irish Coast Guard helicopter that airlifted them to safety. Both men sustained serious injuries that will alter their perspectives on life for some time.”

“To finish up quickly, we won the game 47 to 0. The Irish were wonderful hosts. Afterward we were able to visit our sister city, Carrickfergus.  Mayor Audrey Wales hosted us for breakfast, after which we toured Castle Dobbs.”