Loss of a Warrior: Adam Frey (1986-2009)

Good afternoon Lighthouse Wrestling readers….As many of you already know, I love being a wrestling journalist. Next to spending time with my family, having the privilege of covering all of your sons, daughters, godchildren, friends, etc in their athletic endeavors is my greatest source of joy and euphoria. It would be no understatement to say that I relish the opportunity to write 99.9 percent of the stories that I pen…Unfortunately, today is the first time that this feels like a job rather than a labor of love. This is the most difficult piece of my tenure with LHW because it is the announcement of news that I hoped that I would never have to report. It is with complete sadness in my heart and tears in my eyes that I have the burden of conveying to you that after nearly two years of the gutsiest/bravest fight I’ve ever seen, Adam Frey has lost his battle with cancer…Adam would have turned 24 in a few weeks.

A superstar on every level of wrestling, Adam starred at Blair Academy from 2002-2005, winning a pair of Beast of the East titles in his junior and senior seasons to go along with multiple National Prep crowns. In fact, so successful on the mat was Frey that he was chosen as a Team USA representative for the annual Dapper Dan classic, a bout that he won, pinning current University of Maryland All-American, Steve Bell in the third period…Two weeks later, the immensely talented student-athlete would add a NHSCA National title to his already stacked resume, defeating 2008 NCAA finalist, Joey Slaton, 10-5 in the championship match…Frey would close out his scholastic career by becoming a double National champion in the International styles in the Summer of 2005 under the Fargo Dome.

As gifted in the classroom as he was in the wrestling room, the true student-athlete graduated from the extremely academically demanding Blairstown, NJ based preparatory school with a plus 4.0 grade point average. As reward for all of his hard work, Frey was accepted into Cornell University as part of their class of 2009.

Forced to sit out his true freshman season because of injuries, Adam gave the national wrestling community their first look at the type of character and determination that he possessed, recovering from the injuries to earn the #3 seed at the 2007 NCAA National tournament…While the trip to Auburn Hills did not go as well as planned for Frey (1-1; missed weight on day #2), the mere fact that he was able to rally past all of the bumps and bruises is an accomplishment that should never be overlooked.

As a sophomore, Frey’s issues with making weight continued…For this reason, a lot of people, myself included, developed a premature poor opinion of him, assuming that his inability to consistently make weight was the result of not working hard enough. What none of us knew (including Adam), was that there was a giant tumor in his body that made making weight an impossible act…Again, Adam qualified for the National tournament. And, again the experience did not yield the caliber of excellence that Adam demanded from himself (1-2)….This was the last time that Adam would ever don the Big Red singlet..I was in attendance for this tournament, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have paid more attention to Adam’s three matches…At that time, little did I know that I was missing out on the opportunity to watch an individual who would become a personal hero to me. I don’t regret much about my wrestling experience, but I truly do regret this fact.

Borrowing an excerpt from the official website of the Adam Frey Foundation, March 28th, 2008 would be the day that Adam would start his reign as the hero of the wrestling community….”I decided to get up a little earlier to make a nice stop at McDonald’s and get some food before heading off to a full day of classes. On my way to class on a winding part of the road that I drive on every day, I saw a car coming straight at me. I veered right to miss it and then swerved left, causing my car to fishtail on gravel, roll and hit a tree at about 55 MPH. After finding myself in the bed of my vehicle and still in the front seat, I started to pray. My whole body was numb except for an incredible pain in my neck. After realizing I was not paralyzed, I exited the car and called my roommate to come pick me up. My stuff was scattered as far as 50 feet out the back of the car from the roll and my car is totaled. Upon arriving to the hospital, I waited for what seemed like forever to finally get seen. Before undergoing a routine CAT scan to check for internal bleeding and head trauma, the doctor told me that I must be one tough SOB to walk away from something like that and I should be dead. As soon as I felt everything would be over and I would just have a story to tell and maybe a job to pick up to get another car, I received my results. The head and neck were fine except for whiplash, but another problem loomed. Here I was informed of three tumors on my lung, liver and between my kidneys. At the age of 22, and with never smoking, chewing, doing drugs, and being as healthy as anyone in wrestling shape, I have cancer.”

In the 21 months that would follow, the wrestling community stood by as time after time, Adam’s condition would approach near-death. However, each time, rather than accept his fate, Mr. Frey always fought back, beating whatever ailment of the hour it was that was putting his life in jeopardy. In fact, on several occasions, to me, it appeared that Adam was so committed to beating the disease that he had taken on semi-immortal powers, known to no other member of mankind.

The truth is that Adam was not superhuman. He was not immortal, and he was not impervious. What he was, is, and will always will be is a wrestler and more importantly an individual of deep faith and belief in a higher power.

Not a week went by that I did not attempt to read Adam’s personal blog. While at times, it would easy to tell that he was not in the best of spirits, the one thing that I never witnessed him do is complain or question why it was him that was being afflicted with this dreaded disease…Adam was not bitter. Rather, in much the same way he had done for so many years as a student-athlete, he embraced the challenge and gave 110 percent of his whole being toward beating it and encouraging others to continue in their respective fights.

I don’t remember where I was when I first read about Adam’s car accident. However, I do not think I will ever forget the moment that I had read about his passing. That is how much he has touched my life; how much he has changed and influenced all of our lives….While I remain imperfect, I’d like to think that Adam helped me to appreciate the gift of life. I try not to wine as much about trivial things, and I remember to always tell the people I love how much they mean to me…His physical illness may have been the cure to many of our spiritual and psychological sicknesses…I never was afforded the honor of meeting or speaking with Adam. But yet, I can say with utter certainty that I am a better person, brother, uncle, son, etc because I was able to observe his courage from a distance.

As many of you know, my family and I lost my grandfather to cancer in August of this year….While not a wrestling fan by any means, I believe that my grandpa will like Adam…Both were individuals of extremely high moral fiber. Both were men who possessed “stones” the size of grapefruits…Neither allowed their illness to define who they were or how they choose to live their lives…While for me, the stories of both have sad endings. To them, the story is one that possesses the greatest of beginnings. Being a man of Christian faith, it is my sincerest ideology that as I finish authoring this article, my grandfather is welcoming Adam into heaven….Therefore, if they have laptops in heaven and you are reading this piece, please take Adam under your wing, grandpa…The kid is a champion; You will be able to relate to him!

On behalf of everyone at LHW, I whole-heartedly pass along my condolences to Adam’s mother, Cindy, his brother Garrett, the Blair and Cornell communities, as well as all of those blessed people who were fortunate enough to call Adam a friend.

“In lieu of flowers Adam would want you to donate to the Adam Frey Foundation. He wanted to help others with their difficult battle with cancer. Thank you for all of your support and prayers in recent months. We hope that in spite of all this Adam still brings the same joy and inspiration to everyone that he always has. Thanks to everyone and God Bless. ” (adamfrey.us).

We end this story with one of Adam’s favorite Biblical quotes: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
-Phillippians 4:13

3 thoughts on “Loss of a Warrior: Adam Frey (1986-2009)”

  1. You have brought me to tears and you are right, Adam didn’t give up ever. My son got to know Adam a few years ago at a Cornell wrestling camp and the two became fast friends, as well as the family. He was an amazing wrestler and friend.

  2. Hi I just came upon your blog and felt the need to comment. I spent 4 years getting to know Adam when we went to Blair together. I knew he was destined to be great as he was already an accomplished athlete with unlimited potential, but also naturally intelligent, incredibly hard working, and passionate about everything he did. I feel so fortunate to have known him well and am in awe of how many people’s lives he touched, especially people like you who never got to meet him personally. It is just amazing! I agree that I will never forget where I was when I heard of his passing. I think it is so great that you used your blog to celebrate the life of an amazing friend and inspiration to so many!

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