THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #2

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Fans of Franklin High School football have been mighty spoiled for a long, long time. I’ve lived here since 1992 and as an avid follower of high school athletics I recall the Sabers consistently, annually fielding a talented squad.

The 2020 season was supposed to be beyond special. Franklin had another high octane offense fueled by a star quarterback. And the defense was rock solid. The Sabers were ranked as high as #2 in the state, behind only the state defending champions from neighboring Muskego who had knocked Franklin out of the state playoffs in 2019.

So much promise, so much optimism, only to be snuffed out, and not by an opponent on the field. Watch the video in this report from WMTV in Madison and especially pay attention to the comments of a senior player from Edgewood High School. I’m sure the Franklin players felt the same way.

So, to repeat, the WIAA opted to put teams into regional pods of eight within their division to reduce travel. Then there would be two weeks of postseason play, regional championships to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The timeline for the end of Franklin football this season

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020: The Franklin High School Football team drills crosstown rival Oak Creek, 35-3 to end their regular season undefeated.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Very early in the day the WIAA announces Franklin will play in a special 4-team tournament beginning November 13 with a game vs. Menomonee Falls. There are no state playoffs this year. The other two teams in the bracket are defending state champions Muskego and Hartland Arrowhead.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Franklin Public School District Administrator Dr. Judy Mueller sent a notice to Franklin High School families that read in part:

We have been monitoring our metrics that relate to the spread of COVID-19. At this point, the number of positive staff and student COVID-19 cases at Franklin High School has reached the 3% level of high concern, and we are moving forward with virtual learning for the next two weeks. 

IN-PERSON STUDENTS

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020:  I broke the news that the WIAA announced on its website that Franklin is forfeiting its November 13th game vs. Menomonee Falls, ending Franklin’s season.

After this news broke the Franklin school district announced the high school was going virtual for 14 calendar days starting Monday, November 9, and that all athletics were suspended. So a reader wanted to know:

Does this still happen with the shut down? Per their post no athletics. Just curious and truly don’t know.

I responded.

I posted the WIAA info before Franklin school district made its announcement which reads, in part:

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

My guess: Franklin can’t and won’t be playing on the 13th. They forfeit to Menomonee Falls who would advance in the tournament.

And that turned out to be the case. Outrage across Franklin ensued.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Over the weekend questions were raised as to who was involved in the decision to cancel athletics. Franklin Mayor Steve Olson wrote on social media, “To be accurate, our Heath Officer has been off today but did consult with the (school) district in their decision.”  Olson maintained this was a school district matter and decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: I sent the following inquiry: Larry Gamble, you are president of the Franklin School Board. I respectfully ask: Do you have a comment about the school district’s abrupt decision to make FHS go virtual for two weeks, but more specifically suspending athletics for 14 calendar days, essentially ending the football team’s undefeated season and depriving them of the opportunity to play in one, possibly two tournament games?

Gamble finally sent a response many hours later.

Kevin, thanks for contacting me. By now many people have seen the TMJ4 interview and Franklin parents got the letter from the Administration. I understand the heartbreak of these players however our district developed the metrics to keep our students safely in the classroom before we returned to school. We listened to our families and came up with an effective plan. Up to now, it was working but timing can be fickle, and now is when the metrics triggered a short term converting to virtual learning. I stand with the Administrators who worked diligently to have our schools open and developed a plan to keep our students and staff safe. It’s not an easy decision, but it is the safe decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Jason Kazmierczak wrote the following to the Franklin School Board:

The decision by the the Franklin Public School administrators to end the High School Football Season and potentially rob several other state qualifying athletes (Swim & Dive) is shameful and not backed by any scientific basis. Our Franklin Sabers, the #2 Ranked team in the state in Division 1, has, at this point, had to forfeit their game this Friday after amassing an undefeated season and doing all that was asked of them. If you have been around Franklin you know that the team has participated in the WIAA Playoffs every year for the last 19 years, making 3 Championship appearances, winning a State Title in 2006. You are robbing this capable group of hard working athletes of there opportunity to be part of this legacy. These athletes have worked much of their lives preparing for this run at a state title. If they are to be eliminated, let it be on the field to another quality team and not because a bunch of bureaucrats made them forfeit. Let the athletes move ahead on their efforts not bureaucratic apathy! This team has earned this opportunity and should be given the choice to compete!

Jason Kazmierczak

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Lance Allan did a report on this issue on WTMJ-TV’s 6:00 PM news. In the report Franklin football player Jarrick Miller said, “See I don’t want to take that opportunity away from them, but it is a little frustrating to know that swim and the school play get to continue when we’ve also done our part, and we don’t get that same opportunity.”

Franklin Athletic Director Jordan Hein explained why football is shut down and girl’s swimming is allowed to continue to state.

“The WIAA designates football as a high-risk sport, it’s a contact sport, it’s got a large roster. You cannot effectively play football, and maintain social distancing. Swim is designated as a low-risk sport. It’s a non-contact sport. You’re in a chlorinated pool. It’s difficult, I know it’s hard because we want equity. But I also believe that it’s my role to advocate and do my best to present and provide opportunities for all of our students and this is my next play.”

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Franklin’s Board of Health holds a meeting and hears from angry parents. Some accuse Mayor Olson of not caring about the students and is more concerned about his weight. Olson says he was slammed with some of the most vile comments he’s ever heard during his time in office. He says the school district made the right call.

TUESDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 10, 2020: Dr. Mueller sends another notice to Franklin families:

At 4:30pm this afternoon, I was informed by the Franklin Health Department that they have issued
 a Health Order to cease all extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School to prevent further COVID-19 transmission. This comes following our recent decision to temporarily close Franklin High School for in-person learning as was shared with FHS families on Saturday.

As the Health Order states:

  • Extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School are to cease effective November 9, 2020. 
  • This order will remain in effect for the duration of the virtual learning period at Franklin High School or until a superseding order is issued.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2020: The Franklin School District flip-flops.

2020-11-11 FPS Statement for Media


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2020:
Franklin forfeited to Menomonee Falls, 1-0. I blogged, “Decision to cancel Franklin football is far-reaching.” Reactions to my blog:

Dave Sopolinski This is a great point. I follow college recruiting primarily in the south (Lifelong Miami Hurricanes fan) and yes this can be the difference from a D1 offer to a MAC school vs D3 unfortunately.

PK HartjeKevin Fisher- exactly. The ramifications could be huge. This was brought up to all. No comments provided by those who should have the best interests for our children. Being a parent that has been a part of recruiting processes, what this could mean for some of the boys is that the potential missed highlight could make the difference between a coach at the next level to pick up a player. For example if a player was being recruited by a D2 school and a D1 was on the fence, it could pull the D1 to present an offer. This is why when the mayor stated that the 2 games don’t matter, many parents became very upset. We also know that childhood suicide is in the rise since the start of social isolation, this was also addressed in the mental health conversations however again, no comment about mental health.

Catherine Doll Myers (her son is Levon Myers). I can’t imagine how this might have changed the life of my son if this had happened when he was playing Sabers football (Class of 2012, Full D1 Scholarship, NFL contract.) I feel so badly for all of the families affected by this virus and these decisions.

Former Franklin Alderman and Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor also weighed in on social media:

Judy Mueller, superintendent, made a unilateral decision and the school board sat on their hands and did nothing. Every elected was silent and didn’t fight for these athletes. They didn’t call for a special meeting. They didn’t say this was unacceptable. They didn’t hold a press conference or put out press release. All they did was cover each others asses. Based on my conversations with numerous parents who supported me in the past I can tell you that a revolt is coming. In Franklin, sports trumps everything and it doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat. Those who didn’t back these kids will pay a price. That you can take to the bank.

Here are some pictures from the Journal Sentinel taken at the WIAA girls swim tournament at Waukesha South that show Brookfield East celebrating. This is the kind of experience the Franklin football team was denied:

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The bottom line in this sad story: Franklin High School’s talented, unbeaten football team’s road to a tournament was derailed, ruined by their very own school district.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) FRANKLIN SCHOOL DISTRICT PUNISHES FOOTBALL
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE



2 thoughts on “THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #2

  1. Pingback: THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #1 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (01/04/21) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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