KANSAS CITY, Mo. (denverpioneers.com) – University of Denver men's soccer second-year head coach Jamie Franks and his staff have been named the NSCAA National Coaching Staff of the Year, the NSCAA announced on Tuesday.
"This award is very humbling," Franks said. "To be nominated and voted by your peers, people I've admired, respected and studied for the past 10 years or so, like I said, it's humbling. I'm very happy for my staff as well. For me, my staff has a responsibility to prepare our student-athletes for life after college, to manage the highs and lows throughout the year and to be able to be honest with them. To have a staff that I trust with that, that I know shares the same exact values that I do, allows me to not have to do everything a normal head coach would do. I have other guys on staff that complement my weaknesses and make us a well-rounded staff. The values of being development focused, a family first atmosphere, disciplined and passionate about what they do allow us to lead by example and to prepare our players for life to the best of our ability.
"I'd also like to thank the coaches that have greatly influenced my career: My father, Jack Franks, obviously had the biggest impact on my life. My father taught me to lead by my values and to always have the best interest of the kid at heart. I learned and developed my people skills from watching him. His honest approach helped him form lasting, meaningful relationships in his life, something that I strive for on a daily basis. To Jake Vollman, who instilled my passion and understanding of the game. Without Jake, I do not know if I would have fallen in love with soccer. All of my PDA (Player Development Academy) coaches - Gerry McKeown, Billy Galka, and John Murphy, who helped me refine my skill set and added a sense of professionalism in my approach. To my coach at Wake Forest, Jay Vidovich, who challenged and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was through my student-athlete experience that I found out who I was, what I valued and a resilient work-ethic. Lastly but definitely not least, Bobby Muuss. Bobby recruited me to Wake Forest and coached me for two seasons before I joined his staff in 2012 here at the University of Denver. I have known him for 13 years now and our trust allows us to have an honest relationship. Watching his commitment to his work, his organizational skills, and his passion were great examples to learn from. I owe a lot to him."
Franks becomes the seventh different head coach to earn National Coach of the Year honors at the University of Denver, joining Murray Armstrong (Hockey, 1960), Jim Bain (Swimming, 1978, 1985), George Gwozdecky (Hockey, 2005), Andy LeRoy (Alpine Skiing, 2014), Bill Tierney (Men's Lacrosse, 2015) and Dave Stewart (Nordic Skiing, 2016).
"This award for me not only symbolizes the great work that Jamie has done as the head coach of our men's soccer program, but it demonstrates the value of what can happen when you do the little things the right way every single day," Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations Peg Bradley-Doppes said. "When we hired Jamie two years ago we knew the quality of the human being that we were hiring and his ability to impact the student-athletes in their growth as young men to prepare them for life after college. He epitomizes what it means to be a Pioneer.
"This award is very deserving for what he has been able to accomplish in his first two years, and we're looking forward to seeing what Jamie, his staff and his program will accomplish for many years to come."
In his first two seasons as head coach, Franks and the Pioneers accomplished something that had not been done in men's college soccer since 1977-78 when they finished their second-consecutive regular season unbeaten with a 2-1 victory over Portland at CIBER Field in November.
Denver's latest unbeaten regular season earned the Pioneers a six seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, a memorable tournament indeed for Denver as Franks took the Pioneers to their first College Cup, while making an appearance in the National Semifinals as a player or coach for the fifth time in the last 10 years.
The youngest head coach in the country in 2015 and the second youngest in 2016, Franks is now 169-46-31 in college soccer as a player or coach, including 70-19-14 in his five years combined as an assistant and head coach. In his two seasons as the Pioneers' bench boss, Franks is 35-2-6, having not lost a match in regulation since taking over for Bobby Muuss ahead of the 2015 season.
"I want to thank Peg Bradley-Doppes and Ron Grahame for the opportunity to take over this program two years ago," Franks said. "I know most administrations around the country would not put their faith in a 28-year-old's vision, but I am thankful for the support and the guidance given to my program. The administration's support and belief in my culture is something that facilitates value based decision making. We are excited about what we accomplished in the past two years, but this is what we expected to an extent. When you recruit unselfish student-athletes who are committed and are willing to sacrifice for the greater whole of an organization, extraordinary things can happen. We have a high demand, high accountability culture and we look forward to getting back to work in January as we prepare for the pursuit of a National Championship in 2017.
"When I reflect back on my journey in soccer and all of the memories, the real people that I have to thank is my family. My parents and three brothers have always been there to support me, but have remained critical when needed. My wife Emily is the most important person in my life. Her unwavering support and unconditional love is what keeps me confident, motivated and balanced throughout the course of the year. I look forward to spending some much needed quality time with her and my daughter Eleanor in the offseason. Both of my girls. "
Joining Franks on his 2016 staff were assistant coaches Ryan Hopkins and Levi Rossi, volunteer assistant Zander Deitz, Director of Operations Mac Hemmi, graduate assistant Dan Jackson, strength and conditioning coach Matt Shaw and athletic trainer Michael Eckert.
Upon Franks and his staff taking the reins of the program ahead of the 2015 campaign, the Pioneers were 106th in the country in goals against average. In their two years at work, the staff's tactics have seen the last unbeaten team in the country in each of the last two years rise to second in the country in goals against average in 2015 (0.4) and third in the country in 2016 (0.52).
Under this staff, Denver earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 1970 this season, and its first multiple NCAA win season in program history. An extension of the staff, Franks' first act as head coach was to name Sam Hamilton the captain of his program, a leader of a 2016 senior class that finished their careers 59-13-11.
Franks has been invited by Major League Soccer to serve as one of the four head coaches at next month 2017 MLS Combine. Redshirt-senior right back and two-time All-American Reagan Dunk and Hamilton will join Franks at the MLS Combine January 8-12 in Los Angeles.
Additional Quotes on Jamie Franks
Jay Vidovich, Pittsburgh Men's Soccer Coach, former head coach of Jamie Franks at Wake Forest
"I'm very proud of Jamie and all that he has accomplished. It's a well-deserved honor. He's a big time coach and I look forward to seeing his continued growth in the game. He's a great coach to build the game of soccer."
Sam Hamilton, two-time captain and defensive midfielder, University of Denver
"High standards and accountability are the two reasons he runs such a good program. He's learned how to incorporate that into his organization. Playing for him is one of the best things that's happened to me in my lifetime. To be able to learn from him and listen to him and to be around him the last four years was a blessing. He challenged me every single day because I think he saw more in me than I saw in myself. That ultimately is why he runs such a good program, because he sees the strengths in people and he forces you to bring that to the table in this organization. He also makes you self-aware of your weaknesses, but in the end he makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute their gift to the organization."
Kortne Ford, starting centerback, University of Denver
"The first word that comes to mind when I hear the name Jamie Franks is winner. Accountability, mentality and process oriented also come to mind, but the thing that wraps-up Jamie is that he is a winner. Every single training session is meant to be harder than the game so that when you are in the game it's easier than the training session you just experienced. The mentality on the training field that he sets is unbelievable. It makes it fun to go out there to compete on a daily basis. He did a great job of coming into the program and letting everyone know that the players and coaches can hold each other accountable on the field, but the moment we step off the field we're a family again."
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