Inside the House: Will Francis

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:07 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Over the past year, few have shown as much strength as Bulldog’s defenseman, Will Francis. From a leukemia diagnosis to ringing the cancer-free bell, Francis has shown the ultimate willpower and is now back playing the sport he loves.

Zach: It’s a story we’ve talked about a lot since your time at UMD and hopefully one that has come to its final conclusion. This summer you were able to ring that bell and are cancer free. What’s this journey been like for you?

Will: It’s exciting, something I’m looking forward to. I think I grew as a person, and as a player, physically over time I was able to get better, I was able to use all that and make myself a better player overall.

Zach: This past July you were able to ring the bell and declare yourself cancer free, all the hockey games in the world, you’ll probably never feel a feeling quite like that.

Will: Yeah it was pretty special, hard to describe. My family was there, for some it was pretty emotional and that’s good and yeah it was super special.

Zach: And just that week you flew out to the Ducks development camp, I saw a video of the head coach telling the other prospects about your journey and how you handled yourself from start to finish and they gave you a standing ovation at the end of it, so not just that community but the UMD community, the Duluth community, what’s that support meant to you?

Will: I think the hockey world in general, I think it’s tight-knit, it’s unique and it’s special, anything I’ve needed I’ve been able to reach out to people here or there, it’s something special I don’t think that can be recreated.

Zach: There are two cancer survivors on this team, you and Zach Stejskal who I think said you two got closer in the last year, you know he has to be a good resource for you and vice versa.

Will: For sure both of us live with each other and we lean on each other a lot, whether it’s just a question or just talking about it I think it helped both of us for sure.

Zach: And how excited are you to stop talking about cancer treatment and be a normal student-athlete here at UMD?

Will: It’s exciting it’s something I’ve looked forward to all summer since I ended. I finally had a first real summer in a few years with COVID, and I had my stuff too, but I’ve used this summer to train and focus on my health and my body and I’m excited for this season”