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Fencing Coach Nikki Franke Helped Blaze Trail Women at Temple University – CBS Philly


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – During the March of Women’s History Month, we’re sharing the stories of some of the amazing women who have made a difference to all of us in communities across the region. . Witness News introduces you to a trainer who helped set a trail on fire at Temple.

Fencing coach Nikki Franke of Temple says: “Fencing has always been equated with a physical game of chess.

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The Temple University fencing team has dominated the game for decades, under the supervision of Hall of Fame coach Nikki Franke.

Franke started at Temple in 1972, at a time when fencing was the dominant male sport. When women are just part of a club, not a team.

Nikki Franke Shrine Fencing Instructor

Franke, a pioneer as a former Olympic athlete, changed women’s fencing on Temple grounds 50 years ago. That same year, Title IX, the landmark gender equality law, was passed, prohibiting sexism in federally funded educational programs. It is most famous for its impact in expanding opportunities for women and girls in sport.

“Title IX made all the difference in terms of opportunities women have,” says Franke. “When I first arrived, the funding and facilities were not commensurate with what the men had.”

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“Prior to Title IX, boys outnumbered girls in school sports by about 12.5-1, and in 2014 we saw a thousand percent increase in girls and women,” said Temple law professor Elizabeth Taylor.

Great strides towards gender equality have been made, but representation remains a factor of concern for fencing coaches. Franke is the only African-American female fencing coach in the country. She is able to connect with her student athletes in a special way.

“It was definitely a huge draw for me to be on a girls’ team,” said second-year student Sara Proctor.

“I always have male coaches at my club back home,” says junior Margherita Calderaro. “It’s my first time coming here with a female coach and I’m really excited because only a female coach understands what you’re going through.”

The 50th Anniversary of Title IX is meant to celebrate trail racers like Franke and the scores of female runners, continuing to pave the way for others.

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“My role as a coach is to make sure that each of these young girls leaves this university first with a degree and secondly feeling that this is the right decision for them, ‘ said Frank.



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