Columbia, SC (WLTX) - USC Track and Field coach Curtis Frye is accustomed to teaching his athletes to overcome adversity, but beyond the sport his family has faced some significant hurdles of their own.
According to the American Diabetes Association 26 million children and adults have the illness. It's a statistic that touches nearly everyone in the Frye family. A number of them have fought, some to the death against the disease.
When it comes to coaching legacies at USC, few can compete with Curtis Frye. When it comes to USC athletics, track and field is where success is defined.
"We won the National Championship in 2002. We've had 400 All-Americans. We've had gold medalists in the olympic games. We've got more kids on the honor roll in the SEC and academic honor roll than any other school in the league," said Frye.
Yet for all the names he's coached to victory and all the seasons the program has proved itself elite, Coach Frye's first concern is that they jump further and run faster in the pursuit of life.
It's clear Coach Frye doesn't want the sport to be his only legacy. His goal is much greater.
"Our thing is to make sure these young persons understand there's something bigger than accomplishments they have academically, bigger than being an All-American or an olympic gold medalist. It ain't how much money you make, it's about how much time, money and energy you give to others that create a legacy."
Frye's commitment off the field is to an issue that hits especially close to home. His grandfather, father and brother have died from complications due to diabetes. They were each 58-years-old. Now, he and his sister fight the disease as well.
"It's vivid in my mind that my grandfather had no legs. I remember they were talking about taking my father's legs, but he passed with complications. Our history with diabetes is long. One day if you live long enough there will be a disease that effects your body, your family, your mother, your sister, or your brother."
It's the reason Frye, along with his wife and kids have started the Frye foundation.
"Those are the things that lead to me to where we are with our fight to eradicate and assist persons that are living right now with this dreadful disease."
South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation in percentage of people living with diabetes. Through the Frye Foundation, coach wants to make sure those patients have all the knowledge they need to fight, live and win against the disease.
And like any good athlete understands, he knows he can't do it alone. "I'm trying to give everybody a chance to be on this team."
He's set up classes, free screenings and given nutrition advice. The goal of it all is that people live well with diabetes.
There's little doubt his efforts are creating a legacy beyond track and field.
"The real point in life is the next battle. We want to reach a million people."
The Frye Foundation is also focused on assisting people with mental illnesses. If you'd like to learn more click here.