Missy Franklin has good timing – no pun intended.
At a moment when the country is hungry for some good news, for a hero to root for and an uplifting story about a star who will make you smile, the 17-year-old Coloradoan’s performance at the Summer Olympics seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Have you been watching the games?
The family and I have been following the Olympics each night, especially the swimming, and we’re really getting into it. It’s interesting how instinctive patriotism can be, especially in a young child’s heart. The boys are keeping track of the medal count. You can be sure they’re rooting for the red, white and blue.
I’m probably showing my age, but these days I enjoy watching the parents of the Olympians almost as much as I do the Olympic games themselves.
Missy’s mom and dad are D.A. and Dick Franklin. The cameras have captured them doing what millions of parents do and have done for ages – cheering on their child from the stands, but this time on the world’s largest stage.
What’s behind the smiles and the butterflies inside this particular mom and dad’s hearts?
Focus on the Family spoke with John Koslosky, the girl’s athletic director up at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado. Missy will be starting her senior year there in the fall and has been swimming for the school since her freshman year. John knows the Franklins very well and lauds them for not only the way they’re raising their daughter, but for the way they’ve handled her extraordinary talent both in and out of the pool.
“They’re an extremely close family,” John confirmed. “They’re dedicated and committed to everything that goes into the Olympic experience, but this is being driven by Missy, not by parents trying to live life through their child’s adventures.”
After Missy won her first gold medal on Monday night she expressed love for her parents and appreciation for family, friends and fans via Twitter:
“I am so grateful for everything that has happened,” she tweeted. “God has blessed me with so much. Thank you so much for all the love and support!”
According to John, Missy chose Regis Jesuit for four main reasons: their faith-centric curriculum, their strong academic program, their competitive and highly respected swimming program, and the school’s willingness to help navigate a rather unorthodox schedule while competing around the world. The family considered home school, but ultimately decided on registering at Regis.
One of the most refreshing aspects of the story, though, is that according to friends and school officials, Missy Franklin doesn’t expect preferential treatment. She just wants to be another kid in the school, a happy face in the crowd and in her class.
This past year, when her entire junior class was required to attend a four-day spiritual retreat called “Kairos,” Missy found herself in something of a quandary. The special trip fell right in the middle of her Olympic preparations and the time away would mean four days out of the pool, something she couldn’t afford.
What could she do? It never occurred to her to ask to be excused from the commitment.
Because the retreat was held south of Denver, she decided to wake up extra early and drive down to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to swim. She then high-tailed it north to the retreat in time to join her classmates.
Citing the personal nature of the retreat, Franklin has declined to discuss the extended weekend in any detail. However, she did say that “It was one of the most incredible experiences” she had ever had.
Watching Missy’s parents and the other moms and dads in the stands, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if one of our boys was representing Team USA.
Would I want our child to be an Olympian, assuming they wanted to go for the gold? Would you?
I’ve read in press accounts that Missy was introduced to the water at just eight months of age by her mom. Her dad said it was love at first splash. All through her childhood she and her mom swam together and soon they were cheering her on as their growing girl began to chase her big dream.
NBC reported that this past Tuesday morning, after being separated from each other for three weeks, D.A. and Dick Franklin got to spend a little time with their daughter in London. She was still basking in the glow of her golden moment from the night before.
With four more races to go and four more medals on the line (she missed a bronze medal last night by .01 second!), what advice did mom and dad give their only daughter?
“Enjoy yourself,” they told her. “Do your best. We’ll always love you.”
I love the simplicity of those words. They didn’t try and play coach. They’re simply being mom and dad.
Taking this one step further to what ultimately matters, as parents, we should resonate with the apostle John’s keen observation in his third epistle:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
Are you making a concentrated effort to introduce the Lord of the universe to your son or daughter?
Are you spending as much time on your child’s spiritual health as their physical and athletic pursuits?
As we root and cheer on our country, may we simultaneously pray for those for whom we cheer and root. These games are grand and fun. But the ultimate prize “for which God has called” us is “heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).