I went to Regis Jesuit High School yesterday to see Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. For anyone who worried that the fame following her five medals would go to her head, you can relax. She is, thankfully, the same 17-year-old who left for London this summer.
While the event was initially billed as Franklin's welcome home, the high school senior made the school turn the moment into a celebration of Regis' winter sports—a list that includes football, softball, and golf. Instead of waiting in a back room to be announced to an auditorium of screaming, cheering teens, Franklin was right in the middle of them—the tall kid with the pleated skirt and the white polo-style shirt—sitting on the gymnasium floor and cheering along.
Her name was announced and Franklin stood up and walked to a podium at the far end of the gym. The kids seranaded her with a "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chant." Franklin smiled, and then she said, "I honestly can tell you I would not be standing here right now without you guys." Afterward, she stood near a gym doorway with her bronze medal and let her fellow students touch it on their way to class. The teenagers gave her high fives and hugs; most stopped to take a photograph with her. Franklin looked like a first-grader at show-and-tell.
When she was done, she was ushered to one side of the gym, where a dozen or so journalists asked some questions. Again, more smiles. She talked about her cameo in the upcoming movie "The Internship." She said she was visiting the University of California-Berkeley this week for her first official recruiting trip. She said she was glad to finally be back in school. "My life is perfect," she said. "It’s amazing."
The reporters began to file away a few moments later, and Franklin hugged her father and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She chatted with her mother, who had Franklin's four gold medals on display.
Something was wrong, though. One of the square medal cases was missing. No worries. Someone found it on the bleachers and handed it to Franklin. She gave the case to her father. "It was where?" Dick Franklin laughed. "Oh well, I guess we could always get another one." Franklin smiled, hugged her father again, and soon was out of the room. After all, she still had class to attend.