Nov. 23, 2005
By Elliot Olshansky
Travis Roy plans to be at Agganis Arena Friday night when Boston University plays to host to defending national champion Denver.
Of course, regardless of whether or not Roy makes it to the game against the No. 13 Pioneers, everyone who attends will feel his presence, thanks to the banner with his name and retired jersey number 24 that hangs from the rafters. It's the only retired number in BU history, and it hasn't been worn since Roy was paralyzed from the shoulders down 11 seconds into his first varsity game on Oct. 20, 1995, after he lost his balance while attempting to check an opponent and went helmet-first into the boards
When he looks at the banner, Roy said, "There's a lot of pride. I know it's my number and my name, but I feel like since my accident, it's really been a team effort to make sure we come out on top of this, and that goes from Coach [Jack] Parker to my family to the players that I did play with, and alumni that have supported me. That banner has a lot of different connections for me."
One of the strongest connections, of course, is to Parker, who made the decision to retire Roy's number at the start of the 1999-2000 season, and has made a constant effort to keep Roy involved with the program, even bringing him on board as an assistant coach in the 1997-98 season, as Roy was completing his communications degree at BU.
"He always gave me an opportunity," Roy said. "When I got back to college after my accident, he said, `How'd you like to be involved?' It looked good in the media guide, and it gave me a chance to come down and go to the games. I can't say I really did get into all that much of the coaching aspect, but he's always had an open door.
"The one thing that I have enjoyed that I've done a little bit of, is through the media end, doing some color commentating. Whether it's radio, working with the Boston University play-by-play during the games, or some TV stuff every once in a while, I think that interests me a little bit more than [coaching], maybe down that road at some point."
Of course, Roy is extremely grateful for the opportunities Parker has given him.
"He's always looked out for me," Roy said. "The whole program and the guys I played with have always tried to help me out wherever possible, and try to make me feel a part of the team and the program."
Among those who have been there most often is former BU defenseman Dan Ronan.
"He was my roommate freshman year, when I moved in, looking forward to a great college hockey career," Roy said. "Chris Drury has always stayed in touch. They're the big ones, but I'll see Tom Poti come to my golf tournament fundraiser every year. Mike Bavis has always been supportive, Brian Durocher, and the coaching staff."
Former BU Sports Information Director Ed Carpenter has also maintained a strong relationship.
"We probably get together four or five times a year," Roy said of Carpenter, now BU's Assistant Athletic Director for Championships and Special Events. "We really enjoy our time out together. We have good conversations, and we've usually got big smiles on our faces, and that's what it's all about."
Indeed, on this Thanksgiving, just over 10 years removed from the accident, Roy has little difficulty finding what to smile about and be thankful for.
"I've got a great family," said Roy, who still lives in Boston. "I've got happily married parents that love me to death, and I've got a sister and brother-in-law and two nieces and a nephew who are a lot of fun. The people in my life are really what makes it what it is, and that goes to Coach Parker and some of my friends that I've got from school, people who continue to support me. The accident was unfortunate, and I certainly wish it didn't happen, but at the same time, I have a lot to be grateful for. Those are the things I think about most, what I do have, and not so much what I don't."