Tuesday, March 24, 2015


A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog on one of my former players Bryan Frampton.  I am publishing the entire post below for any who may have missed it.  It chronicles Bryan's fight with cancer on multiple occasions.  It also talks about his love for his sons who carried on his tradition of competing at Poca High School for his coach Allen Osborne. 

What I left out of the first blog was that one of the final conversations that Bryan had with his sons, one of them asked, "Dad, do you think we'll win the state championship?"  Without hesitation Bryan replied "I guarantee it!"

Last week Noah and Luke and the Poca Dots captured the West Virginia State Championship, with a perfect 27-0 record -- first undefeated team in West Virginia in decade.

And somewhere in heaven there is a fierce competitor smiling!

I’ve been working on this post for over two months. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve had to post. They say the hardest thing for a parent to do is to have to bury one of their children.  The same can hold true for a coach. 

The silent ageless oak tree,
the river running strong,
the mountain set against the sky,
the sweet melodic song.*

I’ve heard that coaches shouldn’t have favorites.  As someone that has coached for three decades, I can tell you that simply isn’t possible.  We all have our favorites.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t love all of our players and that we don’t give them all our very best.  We want them all to succeed.  But there are those who’s kindred spirit inspires us, the teacher.

Such was Bryan Frampton.

As a coach you work hard not just to teach your student-athletes how to pass, shoot and screen.  You want to lay a foundation that will last them for the rest of their life.  You want them to learn about teamwork, commitment, and sacrifice.  When they leave your program they should understand goal development and time management.  There is nothing greater for a coach then to see that player 10 years removed and they are successfully navigating through life...raising a family...holding down a job...making a positive contribution to society.

Such was Bryan Frampton.

Every once in a while, you have the privilege of coaching a young person who lives just as they played.  Giving life every bit as much as they did the game of basketball on the court.  The type of person that leaves a legacy on the program they participated with, as well as a legacy in life to his family and friends.

Such was Bryan Frampton.

I only coached Bryan for one year which speaks to the impact he had on me as a coach.  I was between college coaching stops at West Virginia State College and Marshall University when I had the opportunity to work for my junior high school coach and mentor Allen Osborne at Poca High School.

In that one season, I learned more about teaching and coaching than any other stop I’ve had in my professional career — Allen is that good!  But we also had a special team.  For those that coach you already know that special team translates to special people.  But I’ve never coached a special team that didn’t have at least one warrior.  That one player that took it personal not just on game night, but at every practice, in every drill.

Such was Bryan Frampton.

The storm that rages wildly,
the faith that never alters,
cannot compare with a warrior's heart
for his heart's strength never falters.*

Bryan passed away December 1 of 2013 after a long battle with cancer.  And when I say battle, I mean it in the warrior’s sense.  Cancer may have finally took Bryan, but I promise you it was exhausted after the battle.

After a great career at Poca High School, Bryan felt the need to compete at a higher level.  He joined the United State Navy.  It was during his tenure with the Navy that his first battle with cancer occurred — one that forced doctors to amputate his right leg.  No problem for Bryan.  Remove it and let’s move on.  Move on he did.  Securing a job, getting married and raising a family of three boys, Nathaniel, Noah and Luke.

Noah and Luke now carry on the Frampton tradition at Poca High School playing for Allen.  Once, when Coach Osborne was looking into purchasing a shooting machine for the team, Bryan asked if he could take the brochures home with him.  He later called Allen and of course Bryan had picked out the most expensive machine for his boys urging Allen to purchase the one with the computer digital read out.  When Allen told Bryan it was the most expensive, he replayed a message he had learned playing for Allen: “It always cost a little more to be the best.”
Bryan continued to be a great fan of the game, encouraging his sons to play and becoming a loyal supporter of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.  Now the thing you have to know about Bryan is that God has never placed a more loyal soul on this earth than Bryan Frampton.  In Bryan’s heart there was the University of Kentucky and then there were the enemies.

A few years ago Bryan had a pain in his shoulder.  For the longest time he shrugged it off.  That’s what warriors do.  Finally, upon seeing a doctor and going through tests, it was discovered that he had a new battle with cancer — this time the cancer stretched from his lungs up into his shoulders.

The cancer was aggressive and wide-spread.  Bryan Frampton was aggressive also — he was a warrior.  As doctors worked with Bryan, they also looked at some of the best facilities in the nation to send him for additional help such as M.D Anderson in Houston, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and the Duke Cancer Center in Durham, North Carolina.  Please remember our earlier passage about Bryan’s strong love for his Kentucky Wildcats and his amazing loyalty.  He quickly informed the doctors that he would not be going to Duke.  He was always quick to inform anyone that “you can’t spell Duke without UK.”

Such was Bryan Frampton.

The oak may be cut down,
and the river may run dry,
the song will end, the storm will break,
but a warrior will never die.*

Bryan was also an active outdoorsman despite having only one leg.  He loved to fish and he loved to hunt — and he loved doing both with his sons.  One day, while out weed-eating, he fell and broke his hip.  The doctors encouraged him not to repair the hip because the surgery was too complicated and could be fatal because of what he was going through in his cancer treatments.  Sorry, said Bryan.  We’re doing the surgery.  “Gotta hunt and fish with my boys.”

Today, both Luke and Noah are playing at Poca — one of the top teams in the state.  Now let’s talk about the love a coach has for his player — after they have played.  Allen would often go over to Bryan’s home last year with game films so Bryan could watch his sons play.  Allen and Bryan would of course critique the videos — that what competitors do.  The cancer was taking its toll at that point and he was often so sick he could not attend games.  Below you will see a shot his son Noah hit to win a game — another game Bryan was unable to attend.  I would tell you that it looks similar to the shot Christian Laettner hit to beat his beloved Kentucky but Bryan would not want it described that way.

As the Poca Dots play through the remaining part of their season, Noah and Luke take turns wearing #34 in honor of the father.  I believe strongly that the best way to honor the passing of a loved one is by the life that you live.  Bryan’s sons certainly have some big shoes to fill — but with dad’s DNA flowing through them I’m going to bet that they are going to be competitors, hard workers, great husbands and fathers.

Such was Bryan Frampton.

Their memory lives on, eternal;
their spirit guides us through;
their courage gives us hope:
brave warriors, ever true.*

*indicates from "A Warrior's Heart"
A Poem by Gonflet