CLEMSON – Michaela Franklin hasn’t even had time to find a house yet.
Franklin has been hard at work with the Clemson volleyball team, whose spring practice season was already underway when she was hired as the Tigers’ new coach on March 24.
Although she hasn’t had time to settle in yet, she’s already feeling good about the progress her players are making.
"The girls, they’re growing closer, and that has been a big focus of mine," Franklin said. “They’re working extremely hard."
Franklin isn’t trying to teach her entire playbook this spring. Instead, her focus has been on improving the team’s culture.
The key to being successful on the court, Franklin believes, is having what she calls “championship behavior.”
“In order to be a champion, you have to behave like one,” Franklin said. “That reflects in things that you’re doing on the court as well as off the court … being the best person, the best teammate, student and volleyball player that you can be.”
Clemson went 6-26 in each of Hugh Hernesman’s two seasons as coach, so building a winning program is likely to take time, but Franklin is confident she will have the resources and support at Clemson to make that happen.
“I think the athletic department and the administration is doing a great job of supporting me and helping me being able to hire a rock-star staff,” Franklin said. “I don’t care about how glamorous the gym is, how glamorous the locker room is, if we have iPads, … Those things are great to have and they help you win, but it starts with the people that you’re surrounded with.”
Being hired by Clemson is the fulfillment of a dream for Franklin, who had her sights set on becoming the head coach of a team in a Power 5 conference. Franklin was the head coach at Green Bay in 2013, but left that job after one year to become the associate head coach at Iowa, where she spent the past three years.
"She’s been ready for the last couple years to step back into a head coaching position and was just looking for the perfect fit, so I’m happy for her," said Iowa coach Bond Shymansky. "She’s committed to what she’s doing and has really built a great career for herself, and now this is the next step and one that she’s earned and deserves."\
Franklin, a Kansas State alumna, previously worked as an assistant coach to Shymansky at Marquette from 2009-12 and was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois from 2006-08.
"I feel really fortunate for my career that I’ve taken because I’ve gotten to experience very different situations and go into each of them and get the culture going and have success," Franklin said.
Becoming the Clemson volleyball coach is the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Michaela Franklin. Dan Hope/Independent Mail
That experience has taught Franklin the importance of patience, so she isn’t setting any immediate goals for how many games the Tigers should win, but she does expect the Tigers to play with a new level of energy and competitiveness.
"I think that when we score a point, you’re going to know we score a point, just by the celebration that we have," Franklin said. "I’m a very passionate and intense person. … And the girls tend to be a reflection of me. They’re taking on that intensity and that passion, and it’s fun to watch."
Dan Hope, Anderson Independent-Mail