Steve Fry – Legendary West Fannin basketball coach Tom Foster says that Steve Fry was ‘a coach’s player—yes sir, no sir—bust my tail for you’. Quite a tribute from a coach who mentored many young basketball players during his career. Another tribute is forthcoming to Steve Fry in the form of his induction as a member of the 2014 class of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.
Steve came to West Fannin High School from the Epworth community in the fall of 1960. He was a natural athlete who competed in both football and basketball as a freshman. His skills and work ethic were so advanced that Fry became a member of the 1960-61 West Fannin varsity basketball team in his first year of high school. He lettered that first season and went on to win 4 varsity letters in basketball during his high school years. Fry won a starting spot as a sophomore in 1961-62 and would be a team leader for three seasons.
Steve Fry holds the distinction of playing for, and contributing, to three state tournament teams in high school. His teams won Region 3AA tournament championships when Steve was a sophomore and then again during his senior season. West Fannin was the region runner-up during his freshman campaign. His scoring average increased from 9.5 points per game as a sophomore to 15 ppg as a junior and 17 ppg as a senior. He tallied more than 1,200 points during his four high school years.
Although Steve displayed an all around strong game, he was often referred to as a ‘pure shooter’. He was deadly from 20+ feet away from the basket and his smooth jump shots were beautiful to behold. He was also a tenacious defender and hustled every second on the floor.
In a Hall of Fame caliber career in which many games would qualify as highlight reels, it is difficult to single out individual performances for special mention. Two games during Steve Fry’s senior year, however, deserve special mention.
In North Georgia basketball circles, the Murray County Indians boys basketball teams were consistently strong and often contended for state honors. Until the 1963-64 season, the West Fannin boys had traveled to Chatsworth to do battle with the Indians on eight occasions, and on eight occasions the West Fannin boys were defeated. On the night of January 14, 1964 that streak of frustration came to a halt as the Yellow Jackets, prevailed 66-59 in the hostile confines of the Murray County gym. The ringleader of that historic victory was Steve Fry, who blistered the nets for 35 points, an all-time West Fannin single game scoring record up to that time.
Another high water mark for Fry occurred at the end of the 1963-64 season when the Region 3AA champion Yellow Jackets invaded the Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta to compete in the Georgia Class AA State Tournament. When the brackets were announced and the first round foe of Headland High of East Point was announced, a few hearts missed a beat in Fannin County. Three years previously, in the 1961 state tourney, West Fannin had met Headland in the first round of competition and were defeated 63-60, in a game that many felt might easily gone in the Jackets favor. Adding to the irritation was the fact that Headland went on to win the state title. The rematch in 1964 was no contest. From the beginning, West Fannin displayed their ‘A’ game and won going away by a 78-67 score. Again, in the words of the Copper City Advance newspaper ‘Steve Fry led the Jacket bucket brigade with 12 out of 18 field goals and 29 points’.
For his postseason heroics, Fry was named to the Region 3AA and State AA All-Tournament teams. He was also selected as an alternate for the annual North vs. South All-Star game played in Atlanta during the summer of 1964. In other honors, Steve was awarded the Sportsmanship Award by his teammates as a junior and again as a senior. He served as team co-captain, along with Tom Bowling, during his senior year.
Steve also was a starting end for the West Fannin football teams in his sophomore and junior years. He was an outstanding punter, averaging about 40 yards per kick. Following his junior season, Fry decided to give up football to concentrate on his basketball career.
In the spring of 1964 Steve completed his high school years as an honor student and decided to continue his studies at the University of Georgia. He was also encouraged to become a ‘walk-on’ candidate for the Bulldog freshman team. He earned a starting guard position and performed admirably for the Bullpups. In one of his stellar performances, Fry pumped in over 25 points, mostly on long range jump shots in a game at Young Harris College in Towns County. It was a game witnessed by many of his fans in nearby Fannin County who felt a great deal of pride in the performance of their native son.
After his freshman season, Steve decided to transfer to Lagrange College in Lagrange, Georgia where he was awarded a full basketball scholarship. He lettered three seasons at Lagrange and was a starter in his senior season of 1967-68. Still an outstanding shooter, he was awarded the Most Accurate Free Throw Shooter with a 92% success percentage in 1968.
While at Lagrange, Fry was also an active student leader and was elected as the Men’s Student Body President in 1968. He was voted to the Intramural softball all-star teams in 1967 and 1968 and served as Treasurer of Gamma Phi Fraternity. He graduated with a degree in Business Administration and Finance in 1968.
Steve Fry has enjoyed success in the business world at the same level of excellence that he experienced as an athlete. He started his career as an accountant with General Motors in Atlanta and proceeded to become VP-Finance and CFO of Alcatel USA. Later he was President and CEO of Cortelco and is still active as SVP – Senior Finance Executive for Bank of America. Steve has three children and two grandchildren. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.