Temple University has had some incredible fortune with the longevity of its coaches. Men’s basketball head coach John Chaney was with the Owls for 24 seasons from 1982 through 2016, amassing 516 total wins. Tina Sloan Green oversaw the lacrosse program for 18 years, and her teams brought home three national championships. But there’s still one more living legend on campus, who has dedicated nearly 50 years of her life to the university.
Dr. Nikki Franke has led the Temple fencing team for 49 years, and has an astonishing career record of 874-263-1. Her passion for the sport and her players has not waned even at age 70, and there’s no telling how long she’ll remain in her position.
She was dedicated, the students loved her, and I’m not surprised she’s still there,” said Mark Morgan, who was the sports editor for the school newspaper in 1981. “She has an amazing career that she forged at Temple and is obviously one of the most well-known coaches in her sport.” Via Temple-News.com
While Franke has proved to be an exceptional coach in her discipline, she takes the most pride in providing young women with knowledge and life lessons they can take with them after they graduate.
“My hope is that their time here at Temple and in our fencing program is something that they will always cherish as a meaningful part of their lives, and that they feel I helped them to become the women that they are,” Franke said. Via News.Temple.Edu
This level of genuine care Franke exhibits with her players is much appreciated, and in many cases, that bond can persist well after a student-athlete graduates. Kamali Thompson graduated from Temple nearly a decade ago, and still frequently communicates with her old coach.
“Our relationship has not changed at all—she makes sure I’m in a good mental state and feeling good about myself, but she also gives me a little push if I need it,” Thompson stated. Via News.Temple.Edu
Franke gives a lot of credit to the mentors and teachers she had growing up in New York City. She got into fencing in her senior year in high school, and her meteoric rise in the sport really took off at Brooklyn College during her collegiate years.
“Denise O’Connor was my fencing coach. She was very knowledgeable. That’s really where I got into fencing with more depth. My senior year I became an All-American and took third at the (NIFWA) collegiate championship,” she said. Via ESPN.com
Whether she has two more years, twelve more years or twenty more years at the helm is anyone’s guess, but there’s no question that Franke will continue to give it her all for the Owls program her name has become synonymous with.