By the time most high school varsity multi-sport athletes arrive in college, they’re ready to focus their time and energy on the single sport they do best. But that’s not an easy call for NMU freshman Bailey Franklin.
In addition to being a redshirt on the undefeated Wildcat volleyball team, which has beaten two Division I schools this spring season, the River Falls, Wis. native, is seen as a contender on the track and field team by head coach Tom Barnes.
Franklin set school records in the triple jump and the pentathlon, which includes the 800-m run, 60-m hurdles, high jump, long jump, triple jump and shot put at February’s GLIAC Indoor Championships. She took first place in the triple jump with a distance of 36-feet-5-inches and third in the pentathlon, where her performance was highlighted by a first place high jump of 5-feet-2-half inches. Franklin finished out the day with 19 total points for the ‘Cats.
“(Scoring) 19 points in one meet is very impressive for one person, especially with her being in her first year at the college level,” Barnes said.
Standing six feet tall, Franklin is built for volleyball and said she has been an athlete as far back as she can remember. Franklin and her brother and sister have been year-round athletes since childhood. While in high school Franklin lettered in basketball, track and field and volleyball.
“I’ve always sort of had an obsession with track. My brother started me off with it when I was young and I got into volleyball my junior and senior years (in high school),” Franklin said.
Bailey’s mother, Dianne Franklin, said Bailey always put forth her best in every sport that she played, but she was always partial to volleyball and track.
“I am glad she had the opportunity to do both this year and we look forward to watching her as much as we can next year,” said Franklin’s mother.
Franklin does not attribute her success as an athlete to natural talent, rather she said she really tries to take what her coaches have taught her and apply it on the court or on the track.
Dominic Yoder, head coach of the NMU volleyball team, said remaining undefeated in this spring season is all due to that sort of focus. Franklin always puts what she learns into practice, he said, and when he recruited her, he knew the mental discipline and physical prowess that made her a great track athlete would carry over into volleyball.
“I think she has the potential to be a great volleyball player and she has really progressed well in track, which we knew was going to happen,” Yoder said. “She is a great teammate; the whole team loves her to death. She is a hardworking athlete and she is going to be successful in anything that she puts her mind to. She has all the physical gifts to be very successful in either sport.”
Franklin said she loves being able to compete at this level of track and field and, despite only being a redshirt on the volleyball team, her love of the game makes it worth it all.
She added that the best part of being on both teams is all the people she has met.
“Volleyball and track are two completely different atmospheres so it has been great to be able to go back and forth,” Franklin said.
The question of what the future holds for Franklin still remains with her, as well as Barnes and Yoder.
All of them agreed that one thing is for certain: playing two sports at the collegiate level coupled with being a full-time student is a lot for one person. Franklin’s mother agreed, saying that she is amazed that her daughter is able to balance both sports and continue to keep her grades up.
Yoder gives her a lot of credit for handling all of her responsibilities, and said he will do whatever he can to help her be successful as a student and as an athlete, but focusing on one sport might be the way to go. He added that she is more than welcome to stay on the team.
“What I have learned over my short life span and my career as a volleyball coach and official is that if you’re going to be extremely successful in any sport, you’re going to have to narrow your focus,” Yoder said. “She gives our starters some really good competition to practice against, thus making our team better, but she is an outstanding competitor on the track as well . we will see what happens.”
Franklin said she is currently uncertain as to what her athletic future at NMU will be.
“I’m still figuring things out, but either way I am excited for next fall,” Franklin said.