Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin knows she must be careful as she starts freshman year at Cal

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Cal held a press conference for its most famous incoming freshman on the eve of the fall semester Wednesday.

Welcome to the world of Missy Franklin, four-time Olympic champion and, about to be, college student. She is not your average freshman, and she knows it. That’s why she and her swim team and her school are taking extra care.

“There are so many things we have to consider and we have to think about,” she said in a room at the Cal football team’s Memorial Stadium while wearing a navy blue Cal swim team shirt and shining golden fingernails. “My parents have taught me so well. We’re talked to (Cal swim) coach Teri (McKeever) a lot, and we’re very aware of everything that we need to be aware of, and I feel very confident going into school and starting this new experience.

“We’re aware of everything, and we’re aware of what’s happening, and I feel even though there might be that microscope I can have as normal of a college experience as I can.”

Franklin said she has to be aware about posting pictures on social media of where she is, the kind of personal information freely floated by many of her new peers. She wouldn’t disclose which classes she was taking, and the name of her freshman dorm roommate is being held private, too.

The Associated Press expanded:

There have been conversations with police and campus security, and guidance on how to deal with harassment. The coach will talk to her student-athletes about being cautious to keep everybody safe and protect Franklin’s privacy.

She moved in Sunday, after flying from New York where she appeared at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the U.S. Open on Saturday, put on a Cal swim cap for the first time this week and will have her first class Friday. She said goodbye to her mother Tuesday, and, yes, she shed tears.

“We got our first syllabus, and it was saying how our tests are 25 percent of our grade, so that kind of freaks me out a little bit,” she said. “But hopefully I’ll get the hang of it.”

Franklin told an interesting story of how she decided Cal was the college for her on her official visit.

“I remember walking in to the Claremont Hotel with my parents that first night,” she said. “I walked into the hotel, and I looked at them and I was like, ‘Is it bad that I haven’t even been on campus and I know I’m going here?’ I was just there, and I just knew. I just felt. It was just in my heart the whole time. The whole trip nothing felt forced. It all felt so natural.”

One reporter mentioned that another newcomer, Cal football coach Sonny Dykes, was walking down a street in Berkeley and saw a man riding a bike without any clothes on. Those are the kinds of, um, interesting aspects of Cal life she’ll get used to. Franklin let out a laugh.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Berkeley — it’s probably the most unique environment that I’ve ever been in,” she said. “You sort of get used to seeing the fun quirky people on the sidewalk, and everyone’s so friendly wherever you go, which I also love. It’s just fun getting accustomed to it, and it’s exciting living in a new place. It’s very different from Colorado, from Centennial.”

Franklin and McKeever joked about Franklin’s image. Has she ever had a bad hair day? It’s a bit of a reminder of when Tim Tebow came to the University of Florida with similar fanfare.

“I want to see her bad hair day,” McKeever said. “I haven’t seen it yet. My life as a 51-year-old tells me there are days you can’t be this happy, can’t be this put together.”

“I think some of her teammates are going to see it’s not fun to be Missy Franklin,” McKeever added, according to the AP.

Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships earlier this month. She repeated Wednesday that she plans to compete for the Cal swim team for two years and turn pro before the 2016 Olympics but still finish her degree.

Here’s what’s scary: she said there’s room for improvement.

“That’s why I’m here, and I know Teri’s going to help me so much with that, and the team’s going to help me so much with that,” Franklin said. “I’m ready for new training. It’s sort of a change of pace that I think’s going to work really well for all of us.”

Finally, the San Jose Mercury News reported a great anecdote of Franklin informing McKeever of her college decision during the Big Game between Cal and Stanford last year.

Sitting in the stands McKeever saw she had a voice message from the recruit. McKeever told her husband she couldn’t deal with it because of nerves over recruiting the best swimmer in a generation.

A little later a Cal assistant texted McKeever that Franklin needed to talk to her right away.

McKeever found a spot in the stadium at halftime to return the call.

“This is so hard,” Franklin told McKeever. “I appreciate all you’ve done. I’ve got to go with my heart.”

McKeever recalled thinking some phrases unsuitable for print.

Then Franklin let it out: she had chosen Cal.

“Did I get you?” Franklin teased.

She did.

The Cal swim season starts Sept. 21 and wraps up with the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis March. The roster also includes Olympic champion Rachel Bootsma and Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz.

Michael Phelps gets another TV cameo

Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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