PITTSFORD — Nearly 27 years after he was paralyzed during a football game at St. John Fisher College, Deacon Frank Bice had the chance to say thanks in person to the college’s football team, which he said supported him as he recovered over several months following the game.
Deacon Bice, who is now a financial planner, was a defensive back with the Siena College football team. During an Oct. 4, 1980, game at St. John Fisher, he was paralyzed after sustaining an injury while attempting to tackle a tight end.
He met Sept. 25 with St. John Fisher’s football team during his first visit to Rochester since the 1980 game. Deacon Bice said during his three-month stay at Strong Hospital in Rochester following that game, many St. John Fisher players visited his hospital room and became friends with him.
“What I have to say to you guys is thank you,” Deacon Bice said. “Your program bent over backwards to make me feel supported and appreciated.”
Former St. John Fisher coach Bob Bayer, who was the college’s head coach during the 1980 game and who led the Cardinals to three National Collegiate Football Championship titles, called Deacon Bice the bravest person he had ever met.
“Nothing was ever difficult for Frank,” Bayer said.
Basilian Father Joseph Trovato, who was a chaplain and campus minister when Deacon Bice was injured, recalled the student’s spirit even when he was in traction in the hospital. He said he was impressed with all that Deacon Bice has done, including coaching and becoming a deacon.
“The thing that also struck me is that he said we should be grateful for everything we have,” Father Trovato said.
Deacon Bice had some words of advice for members of the St. John Fisher football team. He told them to make the most out of every second and to say yes to all that God wants them to do.
“When I was in traction, I learned that I could control one thing, and that was my attitude,” Deacon Bice said.
He said his attitude is the primary reason why the last 27 years have been the greatest 27 years he could have ever envisioned.
“Marry a great girl, have a bazillion kids,” Bice said. “If you do that, you will have the best lives you could ever imagine.”