CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia kicker Ian Frye didn’t learn he’d been voted Athletic Coastal Conference Specialist of the Week until he got a text message from his father Monday afternoon.
It was typical of his dad, Mark, a former college soccer player who follow his son’s every kick.
The circumstances were hardly typical, however. The elder Frye texted from a Utah hospital bed, where he remained Monday after suffering a heart attack Saturday during Virginia’s 41-33 loss at then-No.
Ian had just kicked a 22-yard field goal to end the first half and was walking to the locker room when he saw his mother, Dana, coming down the stairs from the stands and yelling at him that his father was having chest pains.
Frye poked his head into the locker room to tell his teammates then ran back outside. He hopped the railing and made his way up to his dad, who was surrounded by emergency medical personnel.
“He wasn’t really talking,” he said. “He was in so much pain and overheating and out of breath.”
Mark Frye, 58, did manage to convey a firm message, though.
“He keeps telling me to go inside; he’ll be fine,” Frye said. “So does my mom.”
So Ian did. By the time he came out for the second half, his father had been taken away. He was preoccupied, to say the least, but got updates on his father’s condition from Gerry Capone, U.Va.’s associate athletic director for football administration.
Early in the fourth quarter, Frye lined up for a 46-yard attempt, his fourth of the day. The kick cut BYU’s lead to 27-19.
“That was probably one of my hardest kicks I ever had to do, just knowing my dad and what he was going through and having to perform still for the team,” Frye said. “I kicked it for him.”
Coach Mike London was one of the few on the U.Va. sideline who knew Frye’s circumstances. He came out of the locker room at halftime after being told of Mark’s condition.
“I just got down on my knees and put my hand on him,” London said. “I said, ‘Hey, listen, we’re thinking about you, we’re praying for you,’ and went back in to get the team ready for the second half.”
Frye only told punter Alec Vozenilek, kicker Dylan Sims and long snapper Tyler Shirley about his father. They kept his head in the game, telling him everything would be all right, he said.
London said he would have supported Frye had he chosen to leave the game and go to the hospital. Frye said he considered it, but trusted his father when he told him to stay with the team.
“That was probably one of my hardest kicks that I have ever had to do.” – Ian Frye pic.twitter.com/6pxUHNrXFe
— Virginia Football (@UVa_Football) September 22, 2014
“I knew it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I knew the paramedics and doctors would take care of him.”
Ian finished 4 of 4 in field goals and booted three extra points for his best game at U.Va.
London gathered the team after the game and led a prayer for Mark. Ian was given a police escort to the hospital after the game. He said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe came to the hospital and brought him a meal.
Mark had a procedure to clear out a pair of stents that were put in when he suffered a heart attack during a family retreat last summer.
Ian was also there that day.
“I had to carry him to the car,” he said. “We were on top of a mountain, actually,” he said. “It was about a 45-minute drive down the mountain to get him to the hospital.”
Ian’s been among the nation’s top kickers this season, hitting 10 of 11 field-goal attempts. His father is one of his kicking confidants, he said.
“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 said. “He helps me out and will be the first to critique when he sees me doing something wrong.”
The elder Frye was upset that he’d missed his son’s final kick while undergoing his procedure. It was the first of his son’s career he missed.
Ian stayed with his dad Saturday night. By the time he got back to school Monday, a text from his father was waiting.
“He’s looking forward to coming, if possible, to his upcoming game,” Frye said.
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