Talks with Hawks – Episode 8: Tim Bisci


Laurier Football scout Dave Morrissey has spent his time in quarantine reaching out to and catching up with former Golden Hawk Football alumni. The result was a series of interviews with notable members of our Laurier Football community, which Dave was kind enough to share with us.

In my senior year of high school football, our head coach thought we needed an upgrade in a few areas, so he convinced a guard, a linebacker, and a QB from 3 rival schools to transfer to ND. The QB was Tim Bisci. We were a running team and he was fast as lightening and a very effective option quarterback.  At Laurier, he was immediately converted to a defensive back.  He was a two time OUA All Star, a key member of the 1991 Vanier Cup championship team, and a WLU Hall of Fame inductee in 2003. Moreover, he has been a very successful high school coach at Notre Dame in Welland for two decades.

(Dave Morrissey): Why did you choose to come to Laurier?

(Tim Bisci): In all honesty, I initially wanted to go to Western. They showed some initial interest in me but then they seemed to kind of forget about me. Tom Arnott at WLU worked tirelessly in getting me to come to WLU. He spoke to me on a monthly basis and he always seemed very honest about what he thought of me and my abilities. In my rookie year, I mainly played on special teams but I did get a couple of starts at corner.  {Editor’s note: We’ve all heard the expression, ‘it’s a small world’, well one year Tom Arnott (after having a very successful OUA coaching career) actually ended up coaching at my high school in Mississauga.  In fact, he took my OC job! But it all worked out well for everyone. He helped the seniors win a championship and I did the same thing at the junior level the next year}.

(DM): What was the biggest challenge you guys faced during the 1991 Championship year?

(TB): We were playing Western and we were up 37 to 16 with 16 minutes left. They scored 40 straight points and we lost 56 to 37. During that game, we lost 4 defensive starters to injury. Those guys came back for the playoffs. We won some really close playoff games including a 13 to 12 win over Western in the Yates.  In the national semifinal, we had to come back from a big deficit to beat Queens.

(DM): I know winning the Vanier Cup in 1991 was your biggest thrill as a player. What was your biggest disappointment?

(TB): I wasn’t really planning on coming back for my fifth year. We had just won the Vanier Cup, and I felt like achieving anything less than that would be a disappointment. But our DB Coach Mike White convinced me to come back. We lost to Western in the playoffs that year. Losing that game and ending my career that way was my biggest disappointment. That being said, if I didn’t come back and play that 5th year, I know I would have really regretted that for a long time.

 (DM):When you played at WLU, who was the toughest WR that you had to play against?

(TB): Tyrone Williams at Western. He was really tall. He even ended up on the Dallas Cowboys roster for a year or so. The two games we played against Western in 1991 he was unbelievable. He ran good routes and had great hands. He was also very physical.

(DM): How many interceptions and blocked kicks did you have in your career?

(TB): I think I had about 10 or 11 career interceptions including a ‘pick six’ in a playoff game in 1991 vs Waterloo. People remember me for my ability to block kicks, but all of those occurred only in my last 2 years. I think I blocked about 7 kicks.

(DM): In 1992, you were drafted in the 6th round (one spot before another WLU DB Greg Knox) by the Toronto Argonauts.  DL Hugh Lawson was drafted by Toronto as well in a later round.  Tell me about the experience of being in the Argos training camp.

(TB): Actually, they signed LB Fred Grossman as a free agent so there were 3 of us at the Argo camp. Going with them provided somewhat of a calming effect because we were all nervous to be there. They had just won the Grey Cup. It was neat experience to be around all these guys I had watched on tv. I remember training camp being very hard. It was quite the mental and physical grind. I ended up getting cut. So, I went and played my fifth year at WLU. Soon after, I blew my knee out playing touch football and that was it as far as my playing career was concerned.

(DM): Tell me about how the ‘Fred Sanford heart attack’ celebration thing started.

(TB): That originated from Cornelius Bennett of the Buffalo Bills. He did that a couple of times. The first time I did it in a game I didn’t plan it, it just sort of came about as a natural celebration. We were on tv a few times during our Vanier Cup year and former Western QB Jamie Bone was one of the announcers. He’d give out a ‘Bone Award’ for guys who were making big plays. I knew I really wanted one of those. I figured breaking out that celebration would help my chances. That was the game I had an interception for a touchdown. I also blocked a punt.  Late in the game, they punted again and the punter just sort of froze and I tackled him for a big loss.

(DM): How did you end up coaching back at Notre Dame in Welland?

(TB): After university, I ended up accepting a position at Hastings College in Nebraska as a graduate assistant with the football team. At the same time, I completed my teacher’s college education there.  The education I received there from the football coaches was extraordinary. It was a great experience. In 1997, my former high school coach at ND Paul Barchiesi had become the principal and he got me in at first as a supply teacher, then in an LTO, and then eventually as a full time phys ed teacher. I started coaching right away and two years later I became the head coach after Rick Oreskovich left to teach and coach at St. Paul’s in Niagara Falls. (Editor’s Note : ‘It’s a Small World, Part 2’: When I was doing my practice teaching in 1992, it was at Notre Dame with Rick Oreskovich and I was coaching football with CFL Hall of Famer Rocky DiPietro).

(DM): Who is your favourite NFL football player?

(TB): Actually, I don’t watch the NFL much anymore. I am too busy breaking down film and doing stuff with my kids.  But back in the day, Joe Montana was my guy. I am more into NCAA football and I love Michigan and Notre Dame.

(DM): What is the best pre-game get hyped music?

(TB): As a player, for me it was You Could be Mine and Night Train by Guns ‘N Roses. As a coach, you pick up on what the players are listening to in the locker room. They introduced me to Metallica many years ago. Damage Incorporated, Don’t Tread on Me, and For Whom the Bell Tolls were great songs.

(DM): I’d agree with players being good sources of finding new music. I have to thank WLU guys from the past few years from introducing me to a lot of great rap that I would have otherwise not heard. I recommend Under Enemy Arms by Trippy Redd and Program by Future. I am a firm believer that country music has no place in a football locker room! Any final thoughts?

(TB): I loved my time at Laurier. A couple of different times, I came back out and coached a bit. Coaches Newborough, Zmich, and Jefferies were all great men.  I loved everything about my time there. Even last year when you invited me to visit training camp, I loved it. If circumstances allowed it, I’d love to come back and help out and coach again.

Talks with Hawks will return soon with Episode 9: Ese Mrabure-Ajufo



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