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RNE News

The Saber

RNE News

The Saber

Record-breaking football coach enters RNE Sports Hall of Fame

Jay Frye captured one state, five region championships during his tenure.
Jay Frye accepted his Hall of Fame induction on Aug. 31 at a ceremony in the auxiliary gym. Frye won 127 games during his time as head football coach at RNE.

Jay Frye coached football at Brookland Cayce High School in Lexington County for four years. After his fourth year, in 1990, he was ready to move on. 

But, the question that even Frye didn’t know the answer to was… move on to where?

And that is when his mom swooped in to save the day. 

Mary McNair decided to help her son out, changing his life and evidently changing Richland Northeast. 

Knowing that her husband, Jerry Frye, was coached by Harry Parone, McNair decided to reach out to him. Parone at the time was none other than the Richland Two athletic director. Parone connected Frye to Joe Winegard, the Cavalier head coach at the time. Not long after they got in touch Frye was Northeast’s new assistant coach. 

Fast forward 33 years, and one state championship later, Frye was a Richland Northeast Hall of Fame inductee on Aug. 31. The other inductees were: Dr. Chrisonia Williams-Busch, Todd Hall, Rocky Morris, and John Robinson Lenior. Out of the five, Frye is the only inductee who is a present part of the RNE family.

From left, Todd Hall, Dr. Chrisonia Williams-Busch, Rocky Morris, Jay Frye, and Patrick Lenior listen to a speech during the induction. Hall, Williams-Busch, Morris, and Frye were being inducted, while Patrick Lenior is the brother of inductee John Robinson Lenior, who perished in the 9/11 attacks.

Though the students here have never seen Frye on the field, as he now coaches at Hammond High School, he is still a resident in S Hall, teaching Psychology, Sociology, and Law. 

An enthusiastic and interactive teacher and coach, Frye is easy to crack a smile, and pushes his pupils to be the best they can be. However, there is a stark difference between classroom Frye and Coach Frye. 

Anyone who saw him teaching on a day-to-day basis would have to be surprised to see him yelling and marching on the field cheering on his team. Frye’s demeanour in the classroom was much more gentle. 

As Alisha Seymour, friend of Frye’s and fellow teacher, described, “It was different to see him on the field, you know in his element.” In contrast to Frye in his teaching setting, who is somewhat quieter to say the least…

Frye’s passion for football started long before he became a coach. His dad, Jerry Frye, was a football coach himself. Jay Frye first started playing football when he was just seven years old. 

He played at Hammond High School and he went on to play at the University of South Carolina. After being a graduate assistant coach, he coached at Brookland Cayce, and then found himself at Richland Northeast.

Most students are not aware in the slightest of everything Frye has done in all his years working at Northeast. Though, of course, he’s been working here over twice as long as any of RNE’s current students have been alive.

In 1993, Frye helped Richland Northeast’s football team win a state championship as the football team’s defensive coordinator. Then, when Winegard retired in 1998, Frye stepped up to be head coach for the Cavaliers. 

Under the leadership of Frye, the Cavaliers went to yet another state championship in 2005. Throughout this period, as Frye tagged it, “The Early Days,” the Cavs also went to several regional championships. Frye mentioned how fun and exciting it was to navigate his Cavs through that time. 

In 2016, Frye retired after being on the coaching staff for 26 years. He won 127 games in his time as head coach. More than any other head football coach in Richland Two history no easy feat. Although he was done coaching at Northeast, he continued to teach here. 

Frye even jokingly stated to Principal Mark Sims, “I guess you told them they were going to have to just induct me into the Hall of Fame to finally get me away from this school.” 

He reiterated that it was all an extremely neat experience and something he was honored to be able to take part in. Friends, family, and former coaches and players alike all showed up to support Frye on this remarkable day. 

Frye also made it very clear that he had endless appreciation for his family, wife, and mom, who showed him endless support throughout his coaching career, and continue to do so in other aspects of his life.

Frye poses with family after the ceremony.

Frye’s impact on the RNE community is clearly evident after the Hall of Fame ceremony, but one would be poorly mistaken to think of athletics as the sole force of his legacy. 

He left his mark not only on the football field, but also in the school community. Seymour described him as “humble” and “friendly.

“His legacy is just that he’s a good person,” Seymour said. 

As humble as Frye may be, he thoroughly expressed his gratitude for the whole experience. 

“It was a thrill,” Frye said, “the thrill of a lifetime.” 

Hall of Fame Inductees
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