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Dedvukaj's article 9/16/ 1997

Stepinac Varsity - 1997 Season
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 by NYDaily News


Tuesday, September 16th 1997, 2:03AM

Frank Dedvukaj calls his condition a "disability," but no one who ever faced him would ever say he was handicapped.

Dedvukaj, a senior two-way lineman at Stepinac, was born with a disfigured left arm, the result, his mother said, of her being exposed to an X-ray while she was pregnant. But it hasn't stopped him from pancaking a heap of beef and becoming one of the CHSFL's top linemen.

"God may have shorted him with one arm, but he made it up with other things," Stepinac coach Mike O'Donnell said. "Frank has a lot of gifts."

Dedvukaj has a bright and magnetic personality that has made him one of the school's most popular students. He's sharp enough to score 960 on the SAT. He has the kind of good looks that once brought an offer to model the expensive clothing he loves to wear. And he has a physique and willfulness to succeed that's hard to match.

"He's as tough as nails and never accepts anything less than doing the best job," O'Donnell said.

"I never want to be in a position where people say I couldn't do something because of my arm," Dedvukaj said. "I don't feel like there's anything I can't do.

"I have this and I look different from other people. If there's a problem with it, it's other people's problem."

Actually, the 6-2, 220-pound Dedvukaj is the problem. For Crusader opponents, that is.

Because his difference makes upper-body weight training difficult, he concentrates on his lower body and back. The result is a quick, hard hitter at both guard and defensive tackle.

"I'm not sure if I like defense or offense better," he said. "On defense you can really go after people and there's a lot of contact. But on offense I play guard and get to pull a lot. Then you can really pancake a guy.

"When you put a guy on his back and really pulverize him, it's my way to show how much power I have and how much I love my sport."

Dedvukaj's left arm is 10 inches shorter than his right and the elbow doesn't bend, but his fingers work normally. He uses it somewhat for blocking. His parents, Mirash and Prena, and his three siblings never treated him any differently.

"We all knew that people would look at him for a second," Prena said. "But he's no different than any other person. In fact I think he's more special. You talk to him for five minutes and you can see why people can't resist him."

As a youngster, Dedvukaj was sometimes teased. "I had a way to deal with that," he said. "I would just show them what I could do with my small arm. That would shut them up."

Did that include raising a hand in anger? "I have to admit, there were a few fights," he said. "But not a lot."

The closeness in the Dedvukaj family shows through often. Frank works off-season for his father at his midtown restaurant, Siena, and renovating apartments at his building in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx. His parents never miss a Stepinac football game. And he talks of going to Iona College, to be closer to his older brother Nicky, who is thinking of going out for the team next year.

"I would really like to play college football, because I love the game," he said. "I'd like to go to a Fordham or an Iona because it's close to home. Getting to play college ball would be a dream come true."

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