Another name has been added to the growing list of hall of fame Temple coaches.
Nikki Franke might not be the most famous coach on campus, but her accomplishments and accolades as Temple’s fencing coach have earned her a place in the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Franke got the call about her induction in mid-September while watching her son’s baseball team compete at a showcase event in Virginia.
The ceremony took place last Monday, Oct. 21, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City before a crowd of well over 1200 people.
Franke is only the 16th coach to be inducted into the hall and was one of three women to be recognized by the Women’s Sports Foundation this year.
The foundation was pioneered and founded by tennis legend Billy Jean King in 1974.
The event raised close to $1 million for programs for girls and women’s sports, education, Title IX and programs in communities across the country.
There were also a plenty of celebrities and female athletes on hand for the induction ceremony like tennis great Martina Navratilova, Olympic skier Picabo Street, WNBA’s Lisa Leslie and Sue Bird and actresses Geena Davis and Holly Hunter, who were presenters.
Franke’s mother and husband were also in attendance.
“It was kind of neat to put fencing in the forefront of all those people,” Franke said.
Fencing, however, has never been the main attraction on Temple’s campus, especially as a non-revenue sport.
When Franke arrived at Temple in 1972, there was no women’s fencing team, only a men’s.
But that quickly changed and a women’s program was added, with Franke as the director.
To date, Franke is the only African-American woman to coach a Division-I fencing team.
During her time at Temple, Franke has produced 11 All-Americans, a national Women’s Foil Championship in the 1993-94 season, a third place finish at the 1991 NCAA Championships and a 426-108-1 record entering her 31st season at the helm.
“I love what I do,” Franke said, “I want them [the fencers] here because they have a passion for fencing.”
Franke found her passion while attending Seward Park High School in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
She was already a multiple-sport athlete when she discovered fencing.
But it was at Brooklyn College where she learned her trade from coach and national champion fencer Denise O’Connor.
Franke honed her skills and wound up at Temple after graduating only to find herself on the 1976 and 1980 U.S. Olympic Teams.
She was named the U.S. Fencing Association’s National Foil Champion in 1975 and 1980.
Franke topped off her playing career with a silver medal in the 1975 Pan American Games for individual foil competition and a bronze medal in the 1979 competition.
The U.S. team finished in third place in both competitions.
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org