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Varryl Franklin is the patriarch of Millwood basketball. He’s won more than 600 games, 38 district titles and 13 state championships...and he’s retiring at seasons end.
“My wife just said, “Ummm” I said what does that mean?” Franklin said.
It means Oklahoma is losing a coaching legend after 45 years at the same school.
“I knew that I would probably end it here after a couple of years,” Franklin said. “I knew that I wanted to work in conditions and a situation like this and i was blessed to do so. One class would say stay until I graduate. Then my granddaughter would say stay until I graduate, then i got another one coming up in four years and I said no I don’t think I can do that.”
Affectionately known as Chop, Franklin has seen his family come through and thrive at Millwood. His son Darwin, who played for him, is now the head Football coach. And enjoying championships worth of success. His granddaughter is a manager of the basketball team. As much as he’s enjoyed his family tree growing at the school, he’s tried to impact his players and students by much more than wins and losses.
“I wanted to be there for them and to be a role model for them. Whatever I can do to teach them, guide them and lead them in the right way as grandpa, as father as whatever, that’s what I try do,” says Franklin.
And the feeling from his former players is mutual. They gathered to reflect and honor Franklin at his final home game at the gymnasium that bares his name.
Frank Moore, who played for Franklin when he coach football said, “I played football for Millwood, I played for the University of Oklahoma, I played for the Detroit Lions. I learned more from this man than on any level. Some of the sayings he had, he used to always tell us that you don’t have to stand tall, but you have to stand up. I tell those to my kids to this day. 40 years later.”
Former pupil And OSU Star Donovan Woods added, “He meant a lot to me, but not only me, but my family as well. He changed a lot of lives. I was sitting down there talking to Rashaun and he said the trophies, they matter, but in essence they don’t really matter because it comes down to the lives he’s changed, the memories he’s made and the moments that these people will remember for the rest of their lives.”
After nearly a half century Franklin says he’s learned to enjoy every moment but pass on his philosophy of perseverance.
“Fredrick Douglass, one of my favorite quotes is “without struggle there is no progress” and I try to get them to understand there will be a struggle and you have to know where to turn and who to turn to and not turn back and not give up, learn how to overcome it and I think that’s a big part of the success I’ve had,” Franklin said.
And as for his wife and his new found free time...his plan is pretty simple.
Franklin said, “We can get out and try to do some things together that we haven’t been able to do because of athletics going all year. I think looking forward to it. Now I get a chance to sit back and reflect, so whatever, laugh, cry, or whatever.”
Despite his retirement, he still expects the millwood legacy he and his family have set to continue to carry on.
Franklin closed by saying, “Even if I’m gone Millwood is going to continue to thrive because they’ve had so many great people here. Administrators, teachers and students both. If I fall over tomorrow Millwood’s going to carry on and it’s going to be outstanding.”