Cleats. Shin Guards. Tall, thick socks. Athletic uniforms patched with the member number. All of these items describe soccer players who play on a team. Here at Jenks High School, earning a spot on the soccer team is tough competition, and the players who make it are divided into three groups: JV Maroon, JV White, and Varsity. I specifically talked to Junior A.J. Franklin, who plays on Varsity as goalkeeper.
Most of the students on the soccer teams have been playing for years and years, and Franklin is no exception, as his parents got him into it when he was four.
“Soccer is a beautiful game, and that’s what keeps me playing it,” says Franklin. “I am also a referee so that adds on to my love for the game of soccer.”
Jenks Varsity played several games this year, and they did very well, making it all the way to the state championship game against Union High School.
“We’ve done so well this season because we brought in Coach Marshall (head coach) and Coach Lollis’ (assistant coach) philosophies on how they want us to play the game,” says Franklin. “Also, we have experience in our backfield and midfield to help control the game. But most of all, we succeed because we are all friends with each other.”
Jenks soccer always tries to focus on the family aspect of a team, and they believe that if everyone collaborates as a whole, then they will be able to succeed on and off of the field.
“My motivation comes from the people around me, including my parents, coaches, and friends because they all want to see me succeed in soccer. Our coaches and parents had faith in us all season and we kept fighting to win and work together. Soccer has impacted me a lot because it has brought me these people and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
This season in the championship game, Jenks Varsity lost to Union, with a score of 0-4. Though this loss cost them the State Championship title, Franklin and his team managed to reflect on their season and see the positive side of things.
“The championship game was fun because I went from being 3rd string goalkeeper to the number one goalkeeper and playing in the championship game,” says Franklin. “It hurts that we didn’t win, but I’m proud of how well we’ve done since so many people doubted that we would get there. I’m hoping that next year we will make it to finals again and be able to win the title for Jenks.”
Despite the tremendous time and dedication that soccer requires, Franklin still finds other activities to do in his spare time, and some of it includes even more soccer, which shows how much he loves the sport.
“When I’m not playing soccer, most of my life consists of refereeing it,” says Franklin. “If I’m not doing any of those, then you would probably find me at home on my phone, hanging out with my girlfriend, or spending time with my Mom and other friends.”
After high school, Franklin has huge plans for his future, and he also wants to continue on with soccer since it is such a significant part of his life.
“I will not be playing soccer in college because I will be going to the University of Kansas (KU) and the Big 12 does not have Boys Soccer,” says Franklin. “I am wanting to become a Major League Soccer and FIFA referee in the future though. That’s how I plan to stay with the sport of soccer.”
The next time you see Franklin in the hallway, be sure to give him a high five to congratulate their awesome season, and also check your television screens a couple years in the future, because he might just be refereeing the soccer game you’re watching.