By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
The Franklin High School football program is going through a metamorphosis as head coach Terry Green has taken over the helm of this storied program, which has lost its luster in recent years.
After a decade of losing seasons, Green took the head coaching job of his alma mater with the expectation of not only building a winning program, but also establishing a winning culture to surround the program.
“I remember when I was interviewed for the position I was asked [by a fellow alum] what if I didn’t achieve the desired result,” recalls Green. “And I had to think because I was not coming into this thinking we were going to lose. I don’t think that way and my answer was just that I don’t think in terms of losing and it was my job to change my team and the community’s mindset on that.”
With three wins under their belt this season, Green and his coaching staff feel confident that this is just the beginning of a bright future for Franklin football and the school and community that support them.
Striving to accomplish culture change is a daunting task but the coaching staff believes they are prepared for the journey.
“The thing I would change is the word accomplish, to accomplishing. We are still going,” says assistant coach and offensive coordinator Thomas Bogan. “We are still trying to make strides within the community to make sure that, first and foremost, they are aware of Franklin football and then get the community to buy into Franklin football.”
The team suffered a tough loss last week to Lincoln, but the coaches and the team are not going to let one loss deter them from their overall goal.
“We are here using football to build better men,” says Green. “Experiencing this loss over the weekend, this was a very important game for our team, playoff implications, and this was a test to see how this team will react and learn.”
Coaching carries great responsibility. Changing a losing program into a winning program brings even greater pressure on a coaching staff, and while Green is in the infancy stage of rebuilding the program, he is optimistic about the future of the program.
“I felt good going into the offseason workouts,” says Green. “Franklin was notoriously known for athletes not coming out during the offseason. We started with like 12 players, then over the course of workouts we went to 15, then 18 and by the start of the season we were at 50 players, which is big for Franklin football.”
“I remember when I got the job my father telling me it was not going to be easy rebuilding this program,” continued Green. “Franklin is predominately Asian and Asians don’t necessarily come out for football and he had a point, although I was like ‘dad how can you be so critical and disrespect me like this?’”
“So, just by the sheer numbers of players we were off to a good start,” says Green.
It’s no secret that gentrification has changed the landscape of sports in the Central and Southeast Seattle and the number of Black athletes has been spread across the region, but Franklin’s coaching staff has done a tremendous job encouraging students to come out for football, and the team is defying expectations as they boast a strong senior class and hungry junior class that are buying into the coach’s philosophy.
“Our seniors have gone through a lot of ups and downs and people tend to point to the downs because of the win-loss record,” says Bogan. “They may have come from a losing culture but these seniors have stepped up and have bought in and have shown the way to building for the future. So, while we are excited for the junior class, and rightfully so, I am so excited for what these seniors are going to do post-graduation. I think a lot of these senior classmen have the ability, and hopefully the opportunity, to advance their talents to the next level of football.”
“Our job is to make sure that these young men come out this well rounded,” says Green. “Through football we teach them life and how the decisions we make and the actions we take can and will affect our future whether on the football field or in life.”
According to Green, building a program is about more than what the coaches and players do in practice and on the field, it also about the community supporting and embracing the team. Things are looking a little different these days around the football program. Parents and community members are stepping up, filling the seats at games, providing after-practice and after-game meals and other supportive efforts, and they too are witnessing the change in the program and embracing the idea of winning.
“The community has really come through for us,” says Green. “Parents, students, faculty, the community at-large have really embraced this team. There was a time when maybe there were 10 people in the stands not including the cheerleaders. But now we are seeing at least 100 people coming to games now. So, you can see it.”
Bogan agrees and believes that the support from the community is a beautiful thing for the players to see.
“I do believe we have made some inroads in the community buying into Franklin football,” says Bogan. “You see it on game day when people show up to the game, and also see it during the week when people want to be a part of helping the kids out.”
“Whether it’s providing meals or before game meals we’ve had a few parents step up for that,” adds Bogan. “So, we see it taking place but we are not there yet. We want to also be a part of the community and that is why you will see Franklin football players showing up a little league games, supporting teammates, and younger siblings playing football. We want community buy-in but we also want to be a part of the community and I still think this it is an evolutionary process that is taking place.”
It is evident that the athletes themselves see and believe in the philosophy as their efforts have produced a productive season so far. Running back James Scott, Jr. attests to how much the coaching staff believes in his team and tries to keep them going in the right direction.
“I think [our coaches really] believe in us as a team,” says Scott. “They love the team and they want the best for us, that’s why they always stay on us when we mess up or are doing something wrong.”