Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area
This past week Bellarmine beat El Camino in a boys' basketball game. It was the final of the annual D.J. Frandsen tournament. The Bells won the game 81-73 in overtime. The ninth straight win for the Bells over an outstanding El Camino team.
But this game meant much more than just a win or a loss. On the bench for the Bells was Dave Frandsen an assistant for Head Coach Patrick Schneider the past few years. Dave works at Leland high where he is a former basketball coach and Athletic Director. Both Dave’s sons went to Bellarmine. Kevin Frandsen is now in the Major Leagues with the Phildelphia Phillies. He played for the Bells, San Jose State, and the Giants and Angels before signing a deal with the Phils.
D.J. is Dave and Tracy Frandsen’s older son. At the age of nine D.J. was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer when he was nine years old. He battled the disease for 16 years before passing away in 2004. The tournament is named on D.J.’s behalf with the proceeds going to “19 For Life” the nonprofit organization which donates to causes D.J. believed in and supported throughout his amazing life.
D.J. was a friend of mine as is the entire Frandsen clan. His dad hired him to coach the Leland girls tennis team in 2000 as he continued his battle with the cancer. Dave donated a kidney to D.J. around that same time. All the while D.J. supported Kevin’s baseball career, going to nearly all of his games as a Spartan, and was thrilled when Kevin was drafted by his favorite team the Giants. D.J. never got to see Kevin play in a Giants uniform.
My memories of D.J. were not as a fighter, which he certainly was. My memory was of a kind, caring young man who loved high school sports and being a part of the excitement. He had a passion for coaching and enjoyed his time with the girl’s tennis team at Leland. D.J.’s kindness and dignity in the face of his disease was remarkable.
Every person in the stands that night had a connection to D.J. and the Frandsen family, every one with a story to tell about D.J. and what a great person he was. It was a great final game, but in the end the best part is what D.J. meant to everyone there and what his foundation contributes to keep his legacy alive.
Once again this season we will award two D.J. Frandsen scholarships at our end of the season Awards Banquet. Two athletes who have overcome adversity in their lives will receive these $2,000 awards to continue their education. It is something D.J. would absolutely love. I wish he could be at the banquet every year to see these awards handed out and to meet the recipients. But the athletes who win the awards get to learn about D.J., his life, and his battle with cancer.
The people at the basketball tournament already know about D.J.. As the Bells collected their tournament trophy in honor of their fellow Bell, they know the victory is in honor of a fine young man. Now you know too.