Press Conference: UVA kicker Ian Frye and coach Mike London
UVA placekicker Ian Frye and coach Mike London talk with reporters Monday. Frye was named the ACC Specialist of the Week after kicking four field goals in Virginia’s 41-33 loss at BYU on Saturday. On Monday, it was revealed that Frye had learned at halftime of the game that his father was being taken to the hospital after having suffered a heart attack.
THE MODERATOR: I’m going to ask Ian Frye to come up. I want to start this with Coach London. At the end of the first half, we kicked a field goal at the end of the half. Coach, if you can take the mic first, I want you to describe what you saw as we came up the tunnel at halftime, and then we’ll let Ian talk.
COACH LONDON: Wow. You know, we just talked about the Kent State player. We just talked about what’s important to you and identifying those people in your life that have been significant. So coming off the field, I was told that Ian’s father was suffering some chest pains and he just happened to be right in front of our locker room area. I didn’t see him at first, so I went in and talked to the team, and they said he’s outside, Coach. He’s right outside the door. So I went back out and he was sitting on the ground, sitting up. There were paramedics around him. I just got down on my knees and put my hand on him. I said, hey, listen. We’re thinking about you. We’re praying for you, and went back in and got the team ready to go back out in the second half.
So I knew there was something going on. Subsequently I’ve heard what’s gone on now, and first of all, I wanted to thank the BYU people, the police, the AD, Coach Mendenhall, they were fantastic in their help and assistance. The hospital, everything was first class. So with that, I’ll turn it over to Ian, and he can, if he wishes to, he can talk about whatever.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah, we wanted to make sure Ian’s dad’s okay, and he’s comfortable talking about this before we brought this to everyone’s attention. So, again, maybe, Ian, you kick a field goal at the end of the half, and walk to the locker room. What happened to you as you were walking off the field, et cetera?
IAN FRYE: Going into the halftime, walking to the locker room, my mother was coming down the stairs and she yells at me and tells me that my dad’s having a lot of chest pain. Walking up the ramp I see my dad. I go inside real quick. Tell a couple of teammates and they told me to come back out. I go out and I’m able to talk with my dad and kind of discuss what’s going on with him and talk to the paramedics. He keeps telling me to go inside, he’ll be fine. So does my mom. So after a few minutes with him, I go back inside and kind of sit there, talk with teammates and kind of get my mind ready for the next half. So going out into the second half, my dad was no longer there. And Gerry (Capone) was talking to me on the sideline and keeping me updated, letting me know he was in the hospital and my mom was with him and he was doing pretty good. Just sitting there on the sideline was tough. But I wanted to be there with my team, support them, and do what I needed to do. I was called out for a 46 yard field goal. That was probably one of my hardest kicks that I’ve ever had to do, just knowing about my dad and what he was going through and having to perform still for the team. I kicked it for him. I was pleased to see it went through and coming off the sideline and coming up to my teammates and having them around me and supporting me and keeping my head up, it was an incredible experience. Really, it was having the team there for me. After the game Coach London brought us all together and said a prayer for my dad, which I really appreciate so much. Then Gerry and the rest of the staff helped me out with the BYU police escorting me to the hospital, bringing me to him. It was a tremendous relief seeing my dad that he was all right. That the procedure had gone well, and knowing that he was going to be safe. I was very pleased and surprised to see the AD from BYU come out there. Actually brought me a meal and talked to my mother and me and reassured us it was all going to be good. Really, our family appreciated that so much. I guess the hospital and their staff out there, they were so kind and so helpful, and we appreciate it so very much.
Q. So he had a heart attack?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, my father suffered a heart attack. The two stents that he’d had previously put in approximately a year ago they had reclogged and they went in and cleaned them back up.
Q. When did you get back? Did you stay over?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, I stayed an extra night in Utah. Flew out yesterday. But we were delayed so much that I had to stay a night in Atlanta, and that was tough being away from my dad and my mom, and knowing that he was still going through a little bit of stuff. Then I flew out this morning, got back here and still stayed in contact and he’s doing better.
Q. And your dad’s still there, correct?
IAN FRYE: Yes, my father and mother are still in Utah right now.
Q. So you saw him walking up the tunnel?
IAN FRYE: The first time, yes.
Q. Or just Coach London?
IAN FRYE: The first time I saw him he was sitting down with the paramedics and they were working with him.
Q. Did he already have the procedure when you got to see him after the game?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, the procedure was already completed. He was laying back, actually, watching college football, and he was quite upset that he had missed the final kick that I had.
Q. When you go out on the field and kick a field goal with this dad thing kind of dominating your mindset?
IAN FRYE: It was tough. I’m not going to lie. But I just relied on all the training and past experience I had. Just told myself I had a job to do and I had to complete it.
Q. What was the procedure he had? Two more stents put in?
IAN FRYE: No, they still just have two stents. I’m not exactly sure what the procedure was, but they just cleaned him out again.
Q. The support. How much does that help in a situation like this and give you perspective?
IAN FRYE: With the support it’s been great, and with my fiancée as well. She was there keeping my head up. I actually messaged her before going out in the second half and she said that he was going to be all right. Just keep your head up and keep your head in the game, do what you’ve got to do and you’ll see him afterwards.
Q. Was she at the game?
IAN FRYE: No, she was still in Charlottesville.
Q. What was the hospital, do you recall?
IAN FRYE: It was really close.
Q. Do you know what the hospital was?
THE MODERATOR: Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Q. What were your teammates reactions? Did they really believe that you would still be able to go out and play?
IAN FRYE: I only told a few going into the second half. I only talked to Alec Vozenilek, Dylan Simms and our long snapper (Tyler Shirley). I didn’t want to tell anyone else. I wanted to keep it to a few guys and myself – just let them know. They were really helpful. They kept me up on the sidelines. Told me just do my job and everything would be all right. At the end, when Coach London did bring it up to the team, everyone kind of embraced me, came around me, showed their support, and I really appreciate all of that. Even after the game and still to this day they’re still sending me messages, checking in and making sure everything’s going all right.
Q. Has your dad gone to every game in your career?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, he’s been to every game. He said he’s never missed a kick, so he was quite upset that he had. But he’s looking forward to coming, if possible, to this upcoming game.
Q. You’ve had situations where your dad wasn’t doing well and it was really difficult for you. How hard was it for you to coach in the second half knowing your guys was going through something like that?
COACH LONDON: You know, it is a tough part about having to deal with personal circumstances. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m also the head coach of a football team that has to play. You don’t forget, it’s always in the back of your mind, but I have to coach the team and do the things that a head coach is supposed to do. So it’s difficult. But as Ian just said, this is a family. I talk about the things that happened – not only in your personal family, but also within the team, we’re a family. When one hurts, we all hurt. So this whole mindset of who do you play for, each player has to answer that individually, and in the end that’s what’s most important.
Ian was a guy that his family, they were the family members that all of us need to rally around, and that was the most important.
Q. What is your dad’s name?
IAN FRYE: Mark Frye.
Q. Do you know how old he is?
IAN FRYE: He’s 58.
Q. When you see him, what is going through your mind when you see your dad slumped over being tended to? What is your initial reaction?
IAN FRYE: At first, I was shocked. Very upset. Hopped over the railing and checked on him. He really wasn’t talking. He was in so much pain and overheating and out of breath. It was disturbing to see my dad like that. I’ve seen him like that one time before, and I knew it was a heart attack just the way he was acting. Seeing my mom, and she was on the phone trying to talk to other people, but luckily we had a great staff there at BYU that they really helped us out, kept us calm and did the right thing. Got him to the hospital really quick.
Q. So you had witnessed his first heart attack? When and where was this and how old were you?
IAN FRYE: It was before last year’s training camp, actually, the day before. He had a heart attack before I was supposed to come back, and I had to carry him to the car. We were on top of a mountain, actually. It was about a 45 minute drive down the mountain to get him to the hospital.
Q. Had you been hiking?
IAN FRYE: It was a family retreat with friends. He was playing volleyball when it happened.
Q. So you were essentially the ambulance driver?
IAN FRYE: Actually, my mother was. I drove behind her in the other car.
Q. Its such a mental thing. How important is this week of practice to kind of collect everything going into another game?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, I mean, he’ll always be on my mind, but during practice and the game I’ll have to try my hardest to block it out and perform for him, and perform for my family, and perform for my team and just do my best.
Q. A lot of times in tragic situations sports are a thing that people use to actually get away from it. Were you ever able to, when you were playing obviously, that kick was huge for you but were you able to not really focus on what was going on at the hospital and focus on the game?
IAN FRYE: There were a few moments when the team was doing well and when I had the kick. He was always in the back of my mind, but it definitely helped get it off my mind.
Q. Was there any part of you that thought about leave at halftime with him?
IAN FRYE: A part of me did. But he immediately told me I needed to stay, as did my mom. I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew the paramedics and the doctors would take care of him.
Q. Coach London was there any part of you that wanted him to go to the hospital?
COACH LONDON: There was a part of me that thought that and wanted to leave that up to him, because whatever he wanted to do, I would support him 100 percent. He chose to stay. Like you said, his parents, his father has been very much involved with Ian kicking and this whole process with him. It doesn’t surprise me that he would say, listen, go back out there and play and kick and do well.
Q. Is your father a kicking guru or a father and fan?
IAN FRYE: A father and fan. He loves keeping track and watching everyone in the nation and comparing me and letting me know when I’m not doing my best. He helps me out and will be the first to critique when he sees me doing something wrong.
Q. How tall is he?
IAN FRYE: He’s 6’2”. Not quite as tall as me.
Q. What did he play growing up?
IAN FRYE: He played a little football when he was younger, just elementary school. He did kicking and he was quarterback. Then he had played baseball through high school and soccer in college.
Q. You were soccer first, right?
IAN FRYE: Yes.
Q. Did he steer you in that direction at all?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, he started me on soccer at a really young age, but coming from a private school, going to a public school and high school, he wanted me to play football as a way to meet people and get into the school.
Q. Coach, what do you think it said to the rest of the team that Ian was willing to come back out? Not only that, but to play the way he did?
COACH LONDON: Probably first and of the utmost was, one, how is his father? Two, we support you in whatever decision that you make, and in three, he’s like any other family member that you’ve got to console. So they did that in their way, and as someone asked, when you’re in athletics, one of the best things to do is to play, because it occupies your mind for the most part for that moment. I can’t speak to how he felt coming off the sideline. It’s not like a kicker plays every snap. I’m quite sure there were things that were on his mind. But I tell you what, this guy performed in that game, and he is one of the best kickers in college football right now in my mind. I think statistics even speak to that. So for him to have those things going on with the support of his team and the support of his family, then I think that’s an awesome statement and just speaks well of him, his family, his team, and how we feel about each other.
Q. When that kick went through the up rights, what went through your mind and what did you say to him?
COACH LONDON: You know what, I knew he’d probably say ‘that’s for you, dad.’ What else do you say?
Q. What did you say to him?
COACH LONDON: Actually, I didn’t get a chance to see him until later on. There were a lot of guys hugging him and things like that. But like I said, he’s got an incredible leg, and he’s one of several bright spots on this year’s team. Just the situation last year, ‘who was the kicker?’ He and Alec – this guy made a determination to work hard in the off season and the whole spring and summer. It was such a joy to put him on scholarship because he’s earned every penny of it.
Q. So I guess the ACC Specialist of the Week honor is pretty cool?
IAN FRYE: Yeah. My dad was actually the one who texted me. I had no idea. He was keeping up, which is great.
Q. When you were hurt last year, was he one of your biggest supporters?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, absolutely.
Q. What did you tell him? Chill out and get better?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, I told him just relax and worry about getting better, yeah.
Q. Do you talk about being on scholarship and what that means to you?
IAN FRYE: Yeah, being put on scholarship was a tremendous help to my family and I and made me more determined than ever to do my very best and perform as I could for the University of Virginia.