Franklin And Lilly To Kick-Off NCAC Branch Rickey Mentor Program
The North Coast Athletic Conference is excited to welcome two distinguished guests to jump start the Branch Rickey Mentor Program, as U.S. women’s soccer Olympic gold medalist Kristine (Lilly) Heavey and NCAA Chief Inclusion Officer and Executive Vice President for Membership and Student-Athlete Affairs Dr. Bernard Franklin will address the mentors and mentees at the program’s inaugural kick-off event to be held at Oberlin College on Thursday, September 27.
The Branch Rickey Mentor Program is a professional shadowing experience that matches veteran NCAC athletic administrators and coaches with female and racial/ethnic minority students who aspire to a career in college athletics. This experience will provide mentees access to the full scope of what it means to be a collegiate athletics professional on and off the courts and fields. It aims to offer a realistic experience so that students can begin their professional lives as successful young employees.
Heavey and Franklin will discuss their ability to overcome adversity en route to their positions of leadership.
Heavey, who was a member of the U.S. gold medal-winning women’s soccer team at the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2004 Athens Games, was recently named to the ESPN Top 40 Female Athletes as part of the network’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
A 1993 graduate of the University of North Carolina where she was a four-time NCAA Division I champion, Heavey made her debut on the U.S. women’s soccer national team as a teenager in 1987 along with Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. Heavey, who retired from the national team in 2011, holds the U.S. national team record as the most capped player in the history of both the women’s and men’s squads with 352 appearances. She was also a member of the 1991 and 1999 World Champion teams. Among her many athletic accomplishments, Heavey is also a charitable contributor to many organizations, including Special Olympics, Women’s Sports Foundation, America Scores and the Mia Hamm Foundation.
Dr. Bernard Franklin earned his undergraduate degree from Simpson College in Iowa and later went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Education from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and his Doctorate in Education from Columbia.
He is responsible for the development of policies and procedures that support the effective functioning of the governance groups and to also work closely with the President of the NCAA, Dr. Mark Emmert, to support the NCAA Executive Committee.
Prior to accepting his position at the NCAA, Dr. Franklin served as the president of Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia; Livingston College and Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina and Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Among Dr. Franklin’s numerous duties with the NCAA, he has also been involved in several community outreach programs, including the American Council on Education (ACE) Chair-elect, Council of ACE Fellows Executive Board, Black Coaches Administrators Board of Directors, Indiana Education Savings Authority Board member, National Consortium for Academics and Sports, U.S. Tennis Association Tennis & Higher Education Task Force.
The NCAC proudly honors the leadership of Branch Rickey, whose connections to the Conference run deep. He earned a BA degree at Ohio Wesleyan in 1904 following a distinguished academic and playing/coaching career. His first job following graduation from OWU was at Allegheny, where he was the football and baseball coach and athletic director. Following his stint at Allegheny he coached the University of Michigan baseball team, while earning a law degree at the school.
Rickey then entered professional baseball in 1905, serving as a player, general manager and president of the St. Louis Cardinals (the Gas House Gang), president of the Brooklyn Dodgers and finally, president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, ending in 1955. He is a 1967 inductee of the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and is widely recognized as one of the most important baseball executives in the sport's history as he invented the modern farm system, he pioneered the utilization of baseball statistics and most famously in 1945, he became the first executive to break baseball's color line when he signed Jackie Robinson, who became the major leagues' first African-American player in the 20th century. Rickey died in 1965 at age 83, following 50 years in major league baseball as a player and administrator.
For more information on the NCAC’s Branch Rickey Mentor Program you can visit the conference website at www.northcoast.org.