Novella Franklin is in her element.
It is a Sunday afternoon, and she is at Seminole Bowl on W. Tennessee Street, a destination she knows well.
People she knows like Paul Williams, her longtime friend and fellow bowler and Betty Snyder, the Seminole Bowl program director, surrounds her.
For 25 years, this is exactly where Franklin has wanted to be.
The Lady Rattler bowling team she coaches is playing in a MEAC Southern Divisional match and heading into a year with high expectations.
Just like football or basketball, the women’s bowling team has NCAA accreditation, scholarships and a commitment to hard work.
Bowling teams are more commonplace on college campuses in the north.
That is why teams like Nebraska have plenty of skilled bowlers to choose from.
At schools like Florida A&M University, students who have never bowled in a league or don’t even own their own shoes or ball try to walk on to the team.
Finding success with such inexperienced teams requires a coach with exceptional motivation and an ability to transfer that drive to other people, and that’s just the type of person Franklin is.
“She (Franklin) doesn’t ask them to do any more or less than she does,” Williams said. “She tries to live by example, and she puts her best foot forward.”
In 1999, the bowling team that had been formed two years before found itself in need of a coach, and Franklin immediately came to mind.
Although she was born in Metcalf, Ga., the Franklin family moved to Miccosukee when she was two years old.
She was raised there and eventually graduated from Leon High School in Tallahassee.
After high school, she was working at Wendy’s here in town when a friend in a bowling league asked her if she would play on her team.
So she joined a league at Seminole Bowl, and the game quickly became a passion for her.
“At one point I was in five leagues,” she said while laughing at her own enthusiasm.
She also served as the secretary of the Rattler league where she began to establish her reputation for diligence.
While at a tournament in Ft. Walton Beach she met Williams, a fellow Tallahassee resident and immediately began to form a friendship.
Later he began to coach her, and when she was approached about coaching the team she accepted with one stipulation: Williams be her assistant coach. Now the two are inseparable friends.
Williams admires her commitment to the game, the team and the ladies individually.
“She works very hard to make sure these girls get whatever they want,” Williams says.
Players like team captain Marla Hood, a senior from Milwaukee, know they can count on her no matter what they need.
“She is very involved with our lives besides bowling,” the 21-year-old computer science student said.
Snyder knows that when Franklin sets up a tournament it will be done right.
“She works real hard,” Snyder said. “I know I can count on her to bring the teams in, and if she says she’s going to do something she does it.”
The list of good things happening for her continues to grow.
She received her degree in office administration in 2000 and is now the manager of the University’s Registrar’s Office.
Last year, she led the team to a victory over No. 1 Nebraska and made people take notice of this team from north Florida.
She was also one of the six people in the nation to be selected for the NCAA rule board that is in charge of setting regulations for teams nationwide.
This summer she traveled to China as a member of the coaching staff for the People to People Sports Ambassador Program.
And now she stands in the same building she started out in, working hard to give other young ladies a chance to excel in bowling.
As she watches, she explains that she’s not too worried about these first couple of games.
Once all her players have passed the clearinghouse and start to establish chemistry, Franklin anticipates good fortune this season.
“I expect miracles to happen,” Franklin said.
You can rest assured that Novella Franklin will find a way to make sure those miracles happen.
Contact Mackenzie Turberville at firstname.lastname@example.org