After a disappointing end to her high school cross-country career, one which had 18-year-old Lily Franklin sidelined with a nagging hip injury, the St. Paul Christian School Warriors multisport senior had been looking forward to fourth quarter soccer.
With one more chance at chasing glory, she wanted to prove to herself that the injury was healed and she was ready to lead the young, freshman-heavy Warriors in competition. In Lily Franklin’s junior year, St. Paul had been loaded with seniors and 2020 was supposed to be a test, to see if they could hang with the league’s best.
“I was looking forward to seeing how well the team adjusted after losing the seniors from last year, and seeing how the seniors from this year dealt with that pressure,” Lily Franklin said. “I was excited for that.”
A few weeks before the start of the season, Lily Franklin and two other upperclassmen had been running practices. As the administration tried to find a coach, the coronavirus pandemic hit the island, and the season was sunk.
“I was looking forward to seeing the new players coming in, seeing if we had freshmen or transfers from other schools - just helping them out with improving their skills to build the team after we left,” Lily Franklin said.
Having mastered the art of juggling school, work, athletics and everything else that consumes a teenager’s life, Lily Franklin, in early March 2020, began to get a sinking feeling that the season was in jeopardy of being canceled. One after another, senior events had been canceled and she had begun to brace for worse.
“I think it was, maybe, a week before we left school and it was already a hard week because I had all these other things being canceled,” she said. “I was really, really looking to the sports season, in high school, especially since I didn’t have a great season for cross-country this year. I was really looking forward to this last soccer season.
“It was kind of sad news.”
Even though Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero had declared a public health emergency and ordered all nonessential businesses and schools to close, Lily Franklin was in denial and desperately looked for solutions.
“I was trying to find all these loopholes to still make the stuff happen,” she said. "But, now, I understand. Obviously, it is for safety, and stuff. I’m glad that I got part of my senior year done … before all this stuff happened.”
It had been a pretty good senior year, she said.
“Up until the last three months, I was still doing everything normal, and all that,” she added. “The last three months, when all the decisions were being made, I was like upset, and confused, and everything.”
For Lily Franklin, the emotional pain of having lost the season had cut deeper than any injury ever had. And, unable to find the answers, she turned to her mother, Lynne Franklin, to help her process the pandemic.
“I was even talking to my mom about this,” Lily Franklin said. “I’d rather just count my junior year as my last year because I didn’t get to finish my cross-country season, and I didn’t have a soccer season.
"So, it’s kind of upsetting that I didn’t have a good year for sports, I guess.”
In August 2019, during first quarter sports, after months of physical therapy, Lily Franklin had thought she was ready for the cross-country season. After a couple of practices and a few meets, the pain became unmanageable.
“I remember, at the beginning of the year, when I was just starting cross-country, I broke down crying because I didn’t want to disappoint any one certain person,” she said.
Making the injury seem worse, she had been pulled in too many directions and she struggled.
“With, like, working three days a week and going to practice and my games, I was trying to make everything happen and do everything,” she said. “I slowly realized that I couldn't do everything.”
With less time to devote to athletics, and a manageable three-class load where she took Bible, economics and robotics, her grades soared.
“I was a lot better this year than past years,” she said.
When Lily Franklin was a sophomore, she became interested in robotics and decided to enroll in Rommel Samala’s class. That first day, when she walked into class, she was overwhelmed. She had heard that the students were very smart, and she had been more interested in beauty and fashion.
“People would say, ‘robotics is for nerds,’ or, whatever,” her friends had told her.
Quickly, she realized that her friends had been wrong, and the students were welcoming, friendly and eager to help.
“In that class, the people in it were so cool,” Lily Franklin said. … “I was definitely intimidated, at first, because they had all the upperclassmen who knew what they were doing, and I had to learn from the beginning. …
“I learned more, and more, and I am able to teach the underclassmen, and that’s great.”
"I think that class made me smarter, too," she said.
“I loved that class,” she added, adding that robotics "was one of my best classes because I feel that I learned a lot. It taught me a side of me that I didn’t know.
"I didn’t know part of me knew how to build robots, and stuff,' she said.
With her high school career etched in the record books, Lily Franklin is preparing for her life’s next chapter. Although she isn’t sure if classes are going to be 100% online or a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction, she is enrolled at Chaminade University of Honolulu.
When choosing a school, Lily Franklin’s parents, Franc Franklin, father, and Lynne Franklin, mother, told her that they would feel better if she went somewhere where she would be close to family.
“My brother graduated from Chaminade, and my parents thought it would be a good idea to be near him,” said Lily Franklin, adding that she is registered as a business major and hopes to apply her degree toward a career in cosmetology.
“I would love to open some type of business revolving around cosmetology because I just love beauty stuff like that,” she said. … “I know I’d be happy doing that.”
For Lily Franklin, who has spent the last 14 years nailing goals into the back of nets, creating new and innovative designs for fingernails taps into her creativity and brings her joy.
“You can just come up with so many different ideas and designs, and I love that,” she said. … “If you can paint designs, it’s more fun than just painting one solid color.
“It’s being unique, which I love."
As of now, Chaminade’s in-person classes for undergraduates are scheduled to begin Aug. 24, but with the ever-changing coronavirus climate and with state and federal government regulations in flux, planning for the future has become an ever-shifting labyrinth.
"Depending on how things work out, with the whole COVID and everything, I might be staying here and taking classes online," Lily Franklin said.
Although her plans may change and there are still a few unknowns, she especially feels sorry for the incoming class of 2021 high school students, fearing for the student-athletes.
“I think the only surprise was that we never returned to school,” she said. "With them, they don’t even know if they’re gong back to class.
“Now, they have to worry about what the schedule is going to be and everything, and they might not have sports. I’d rather have had my situation than not knowing what’s going to happen.”
For Lily Franklin, playing sports made her high school career more enjoyable and she couldn’t imagine what it would have been like without it.
“I don’t think it would be as fun,” she said. “I really feel, especially at St. Paul, sports brings so many people together. …
“I think that school wouldn’t have as many memories, friendships, and all that, if we didn’t have sports.”