Franklin Overcomes Obstacles

April 25, 2007


By:Jennifer Bissell

As a senior on the women’s track and field team, Becca Franklin has become one of the most successful athletes on the team. This season, she’s broken her personal and school records in the hammer throw with a distance of 187-6. On April 7, she increased her regional-qualifying record to 187-11.

Even though Franklin’s statistics are impressive, there’s more to her story. She began her Hawkeye career as a walk-on jumper.

While at Riverdale High School in East Moline, IL, Franklin set school records in triple (37-10), high (5-5) and long jumps (16-5 1/2) as well as being a seven-time conference champion.

Despite having a successful high school career, Franklin had reservations about being an athlete in college.

“I was a jumper and sprinter in high school and never had any intention of doing anything else. I debated whether I even wanted to do track in college. I decided as long as I could jump I would give it a try,” she said.

Franklin competed in the triple jump during her freshman year; however it quickly became apparent if she wanted to stay with the team, she would need to make a change.

“Switching wasn’t really my choice, nor my preference, at the time. I walked-on the team and a few months into my freshman year, I was told there wasn’t room on the team for more jumpers because they had recruited one over the summer. They said if I wanted to stay on the team I could try throwing the hammer,” she said.

After giving it some thought, Franklin decided she wanted to stay. Even though making the transition from jumper to thrower may seem like a difficult one, Assistant Coach Victor Houston said that isn’t necessarily true.

“Making the change from jumper to thrower is not a one,” he said. “Most people think throws are in the arm of the person. But, contrary to that, it is in the legs and most jumpers have very strong legs. It is always a plus to have very long levers like [Franklin], and she does have very long arms.”

Even though Franklin does possess physical characteristics that helped her make the transition, she did face challenges.

“The biggest challenge Franklin had to face was overcoming the natural human tendency to become dizzy and nauseous from the rotation factor of turning in the hammer throw. And, knowing where she will end up after that process to finish a throw. It does take a while to get over that feeling,” said Houston.

The physical changes Franklin experienced were also demanding.

“Meets were uncomfortable for me because I wasn’t always sure about the rules and weigh-ins and was just way out of my comfort zone. I also experienced challenges because of my size. It took a while to reshape and learn to use my body weight to help me,” she said.

Since learning the techniques and getting more comfortable with the event, Franklin has improved tremendously. After a successful sophomore season in 2005 in which she set the school record in the hammer throw (181-11) and finished 18th at the NCAA regional for outdoor competition, she injured her back during the first meet of the 2006 indoor season. She spent most of the indoor season recovering and wasn’t able to compete at a level she wanted outdoors. Franklin bounced back during her senior season by breaking the school record four of the first five meets. The record currently stands at 195-0, set at the Musco Twilight IX meet on April 21, in Iowa City.

Now back on track, Franklin continues to improve her regional qualifying mark and set school records. The ability to make the change from jumps to throws as well as the success she accomplished in both has impressed Houston.

“It says to me that [Franklin] is very driven and an extremely hard worker. In order to make the switch and become this successful is hard in an event that takes some people many years to master,” he said.

While Franklin is proud of the success she’s had, she also hopes future athletes will be willing to change events like she was.

“I think there is a lot to be said for starting as a walk-on and working your way up from the bottom. Personally, it gives me knowledge that I can overcome future obstacles in life.”

“I also think it gives athletes who are debating walking-on, or trying something new, a realization that it is worth trying. It is possible to succeed in something you have no knowledge about or may not be the best at starting out.”

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