The timing of the announcement of this year's Fry Fest Activities coincided with anniversary of one of my favorite Hayden Fry stories.
Under any coach the Thursday staff meeting prior to the culmination of spring practice would result in the discussion of the upcoming Spring Game. There is much to discuss regarding that Saturday. Among them are recruiting and who is coming to town for a visit, the style of play and what will actually be on display for the fans to watch and possible what will life be once spring ball is over. At least that is what I thought would be the topic of discussion, but I was surprised when I walked into the staff room during one of Coach Fry's last years.
After every one of Coach Fry's staff meetings during spring and fall practices, I would enter asking either Offensive Coordinator Don Patterson or Coach Fry himself how practice would be located on the field--would the offense throw with the wind or have the receivers look into the sun. On this Thursday, I entered the Iowa Staff Room only to find something I had never seen before.
As I walked in I noticed the wall's white boards with five groups of four. At the top of each list was a name of either a coordinator or the head coach. I had an idea that these "foursomes" would be the groups of golfers for the Hayden Fry Football Outing. And there was tight end coach, Mark Hendrickson sitting by himself filling out the day's practice schedule. I proceeded to say, "Don't tell me you spent 25 minutes talking golf and the final five on the Spring Game. But I was close to being right.
When I posed the question to Mark, he lifted his face, looked at me and said, "Matt, it was something that I've never seen before." I said, "don't tell me you spent the entire staff meeting coming up with teams for the following Monday's golf outing." They had spent 90% on the golf outing and 10% on the spring game. He proceeded to explain to me the process.
Hayden, along with his coordinators and senior ranking coach would be selected team captains with the draft to follow. Along with the coaches, the secretaries, training staff and video department would be included. It was common knowledge you didn't want to be on Hayden's team as he did not want to lose. The competitors saw this as their way to hold some bragging rights over the head Hawk.
Monday came and everyone assembled at Finkbine Golf Course. This particular year was cloudy and damp with Hayden's group teeing off first. I was in that group along with a secretary and an assistant coach. We had a good team, but would it be enough to take home the championship?
Once everyone had a few holes under their belt, scores of the group began to circulate. Two under, three under, even par were among the scores, but lying was also a common practice. Mind games were common from groups that claim a competitive spirit in the daily workplace.
Then came hole #13. The water hole. In this best ball tournament, our group had one safely shy of the green with an up / down very possible. But the shot was not of Coach Fry. His was dry, but further away from the green.
We drove to the green and I noticed Coach Fry stopped close to the pond, where his ball was not. He proceeded to grab the ball retrieval tool from his bag and went fishing for golf balls. Word of this began to circulate as well and soon one assistant drove over to witness it first hand. "This guy makes the most money of anyone on campus, and he is fishing for golf ball?" said one coach as he chuckled while watching.
Finally the round of golf came to an end and after nearly five hours the final score was announced. However the winning coach didn't include Coach Fry. His group finished -3 and lost by two strokes.
Although he lost, the golf outing was important to Coach Fry, and it was as important to the secretaries, training staff, video staff and equipment staff. This team building event continued on as long as Coach Fry was there.