LOS ANGELES — Sports can lay the groundwork for incredible bonds and friendships.
All-time Oxy great Rick Fry '78 is evidence of just that.
Earlier this month, the two-time All-American Occidental wide receiver and rugby diehard was nominated for the small college division of the College Football Hall of Fame for the second time. He's one of 77 finalists with the final induction number expected to be around 10.
"The nomination itself is fantastic. Whether or not I'm eventually elected would just be icing on the cake," said Fry, who for two years (1976-77) led the nation in receptions per game and scored 23 touchdowns. He was one of Oxy's best receivers in its storied 119-year history, serving as then star quarterback Tom Hamilton's go-to target on a dynamic passing offense. No other Oxy receiver has led the nation in receptions besides Matthew Tuckness '13, who accomplished the feat this past season.
Fry was later inducted into the Occidental College Football Hall of Fame.
But for Fry, his fondest memories of Occidental don't come from the long list of accomplishments in his trophy case. They come from the relationships he built with people along the way, none more special than with his late brother Tom Fry 79'.
The Frys were a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron and later on the rugby pitch. Tom Fry was an All-SCIAC linebacker for the Tigers and both later played with the Olde Boys, Oxy's alumni club rugby team. Tom went on to earn a law degree from Loyola and then spent 16 years teaching and coaching at Flintridge Prep. He passed away three years ago after a sudden onset of brain cancer.
"It was one of those things that just came out of nowhere," Fry said. "He was my brother, my teammate and my very best friend."
Rick, the middle child of three Fry brothers, remembers competing in ping pong, driveway basketball, grades in school and just about anything else the trio could put a score to.
Later that bond with Tom grew even tighter when they went to Occidental together. Rick might not have realized it at the time, but intercollegiate football and then 15 years of rugby with Tom and the Olde Boys club are now among his most cherished experiences.
"Both in football and in rugby you develop these tremendous relationships with your teammates and friends and then normally they tend to go by the way side" Fry said. "One of the things that's so special about the Olde Boys club is that we were able to continue playing together for many years and those relationships and friendships continued for many more years. For me, that's the epitome of the Oxy experience."
He fell in love with rugby during a trip to Europe after being a little skeptical about trying out the sport.
"I'd been approached and recruited by some of the players and I said, 'you guys are nuts… I've seen this sport,'" said Fry, who quickly changed his mind in England. "I had a blast and fell in love with the game. The NFL wasn't kicking down my door so I kept playing."
It wasn't until he settled down to have a family that he finally called it a career.
"I had kids and then I said, 'okay, I need to stop coming home with a bruised body,'" Fry said.
He currently manages distribution operations for New Breed Logistics and lives in La Canada with his wife of 25 years, Stephanie. They have two children, a son, Taylor, who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona on Sunday and a daughter, Jessica, who will graduate from Cal State Northridge in the fall.
Fry still stays very involved in Oxy athletics. He attends as many of the Oxy football games and rugby matches as he can.