Temple Fencing Coach Nikki Franke Honored with PSWA Lifetime Achievement
Since 1972, Dr. Nikki Franke has built a consistent winning program and a reputation for guiding the development of world class women fencers at Temple University.
Fencing has taken Franke, who grew up in Harlem, all over the world as an Olympic athlete. She was a member of the 1976 and 1980 U.S. Olympic fencing teams and a two-time U.S. Fencing Association national foil champion.
Upon graduation from Brooklyn College, she learned of an opportunity at Temple that gave her the chance to receive a master’s degree in health education while still being able to compete. But it also gave Franke, and the Owls, the opportunity to start a women’s fencing team, with Franke as head coach,building what had been a club team into an NCAA Division I team.
“Teenagers come here, and four years later they’re leaving as young women and going out into the world to make a difference,” Franke said. “That has been my great pleasure. My hope is that their time here at Temple and in our fencing program is something that they will always cherish as a meaningful part of their lives, and that they feel I helped them to become the women that they are. That’s all we can ask for as coaches—that we’ve made a difference in their lives in a positive way.”
Franke was the first Black woman ever to coach an NCAA Division I Fencing team. Among her accomplishments, she coached Temple to an NCAA championship in 1991–1992. In the historic 50th season of Owls women’s fencing, Temple went 24-14 in 2021-22, giving Franke a career record of 898-277-1.
Her career accolades include induction into the International Sports Hall of Fame, established by the Women’s Sports Foundation, in 2002, as well as the Temple University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995 and the United States Fencing Association Hall of Fame in 1998. In addition, Franke received the United States Fencing Coaches Association Women’s Fencing Coach of the Year honors in 1983, 1987, 1988, and in 1991.
This past August, Franke retired as the Owl’s women’s fencing coach, and as an Associate Professor in Temple’s Department of Public Health. For her legendary career, she will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.
Franke is one of the co-founders of Black Women in Sport Foundation, a non-profit based in Philadelphia that encourages Black women and girls to participate in all areas of sports, which include coaching and administration.
By Jim DeLorenzo
Jim DeLorenzo Public Relations
(Photo, Temple University)