When Frank “Monk” Bonasorte played football at Bishop Boyle High School in the mid-1970s, he was a smallish tight end-defensive end who was not recruited by major colleges.
A few years later, Mr. Bonasorte was an All-American defensive back at Florida State. His story of overcoming and making it big made him revered in his hometown of Hazelwood.
“To my generation and some other generations later, he was a hero of Hazelwood,” said Archie Manning, who lived close to Mr. Bonasorte and was an athlete at Boyle after him. “There were a lot of great players and athletes in that neighborhood, but he was a hero because he came out and made it in his own way.”
After his high school days, Mr. Bonasorte made himself a standout player at Florida State and later an athletics administrator at the school. Mr. Bonasorte died of brain cancer Nov. 19 in Tallahassee, Fla. He was 59.
A memorial service for Mr. Bonasorte will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Hazelwood.
Mr. Bonasorte’s older brother, Chuck, was a member of Pitt’s national championship team in 1976 and Chuck earned the nickname “Kamikaze Kid” for his style of play. But Pitt didn’t recruit Francis Bonasorte. Through a mutual friend, Mr. Bonasorte was hooked up with Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, and the Seminoles agreed to take Mr. Bonasorte on the team as a walk-on in 1976.
By 1977, Florida State gave Mr. Bonasorte an athletic scholarship. By 1978, he was an outstanding defensive back for the Seminoles. That year, in a game against an excellent Pitt team at Pitt Stadium, Mr. Bonasorte had a game-high 18 tackles in a 7-3 loss.
Asked after the game if he had any ill feelings toward Pitt for not recruiting him, Mr. Bonasorte said, “I never blamed Pitt for not recruiting me. I was a tight end-defensive end at Boyle at 6 feet and 180 pounds, and we’re such a small school, hardly any of us are ever recruited.”
But Mr. Bonasorte, who also was a fine baseball player in his teenage days, built himself into a big-time player.
“His work ethic was unbelievable,” said Mr. Manning. “I remember seeing him all the time in the summer. He’d run twice a day, eight to 10 miles, all the way down Second Avenue, over the Glenwood Bridge and back.”
In 1979, Mr. Bonasorte was a third-team Associated Press All-American. In 1980, the Football News selected him a second-team All-American. His 15 career interceptions are still second in school history and his eight interceptions in 1979 are still the second-best single-season mark at Florida State.
Mr. Bonasorte was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. He spent 13 years as president and executive director of the Florida State University Varsity Club before becoming senior associate director of athletics in 2008.
Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher issued this statement when Mr. Bonasorte passed away: “Nobody cared more about Florida State University and its student-athletes than Monk. He dedicated his life to Florida State and was a pillar of strength for our football program during the last year. Monk was a tremendous administrator who I was lucky to work closely with from the time I arrived here. Most importantly, Monk was a great friend and he will truly be missed.”
Mr. Bonasorte is survived by his wife, Beverly, and two sons, T.J. and Rocky.
Mike White: email@example.com and Twitter @mwhiteburgh