Golden Nuggets: Missy Franklin Discusses Her Rise to Fame and the Impact (Both Positive and Negative) it has had on Her Life

Missy Franklin (R) and Future Cal Teammate Elizabeth Pelton (L) Celebrate their 1-2 Finish at the U.S. National Championships and World Championships Trials. - Streeter Lecka

The Cal-bound Olympic medalist Missy Franklin discusses her sudden rise to fame, the challenges that has brought, and her determination to not to let it change who she is.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports penned a great article on Missy Franklin's sudden rise to fame and the impact it has had on her life.

You win four gold medals and then try to do what almost every American kid your age is doing: pick a college to attend. Suddenly, total strangers want to tell you what a mistake you're making by not turning pro and reaping millions in endorsements. Suddenly, everyone is an expert on your life choices and wants to critique your plan – two years of swimming at California, then turning pro in 2015 in anticipation of the Olympics the following year in Rio de Janeiro.

"She told us, 'It's too soon to make swimming my job,' " says Missy's dad, Dick. "That phrase pretty well did it for her mom (D.A.) and I. Nobody likes to give up $4 [million] to $8 million, but we thought it's the right thing for Missy."

You win four gold medals and then try returning to your Regis Jesuit High School swim team. Suddenly, people from other schools are getting cranky, saying an Olympian has no place in high school sports. Suddenly, the competition is too much for some swimmers and tickets to the state meet are too scarce for some parents.

"It killed me," Missy says. "I loved swimming high school. I'm a total people pleaser, even people I don't know. I love to make people happy, and when something like that happens, I don't know what to do. … But looking back on it, I'm so happy I did it."

Despite the tumult of fairly sudden fame, the girl at the center of the swirl is fundamentally the same person. Appearances on late-night talk shows, modeling shoots and guest-of-honor appearances at sporting events have not altered Missy Franklin's demeanor, disposition or DNA.

"Most famous people – politicians, actors, athletes – it's an act," said Missy's Colorado Stars coach, Todd Schmitz. "They act one way in public and a different way in private.

"There's no act with Missy. You're never going to catch her out of the act, because it's not an act."

She sounds like she'll be a fantastic addition to the Cal community.

  • In case you missed it, Cal hired David Secor as the athletic department's new CFO. Wilner praises the hire, as Secor was an effective CFO for UCLA over the past 12 years.

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