MARQUETTE - Senior volleyball player and former All-American track and field athlete Bailey Franklin isn't particularly new to the courts of Northern Michigan University, but she's still feeling a bit rusty.
After a four-season hiatus from volleyball and a handful of All-American nods as a high jump and heptathlon athlete for the Wildcat track and field team, Franklin is returning to the Northern volleyball team for her last year of general NCAA eligibility, having used all four years of her track eligibility.
"I was looking into being able to compete one more year (in other sports)," Franklin said. "It's confusing with the NCAA, you have four years in one sport but you have five years of total eligibility. I'm just happy to be here. Since my freshmen year, I've been like 'Oh if I could go back to volleyball, I would.' So when someone gave me the opportunity, how could I say no?"
Northern Michigan University senior Bailey Franklin serves during a preseason practice at Vandament Arena in August. Franklin last played volleyball at NMU in 2008 before going on to have a successful four years on the Wildcat track and field team as an All-American. With a semester of NCAA eligibility left, Franklin is giving the sport of volleyball a final run before departing NMU. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
During her freshmen year, Franklin participated in both track and volleyball, yet with double practices, school and training for new events in track, she became overwhelmed and decided to pursue track over volleyball.
"I actually came here for a track scholarship, and the track coach suggested that I try out for the volleyball team because he said my high school team did well, so I did," Franklin said of her progression to volleyball as a freshman. "By the end of the year it just got to be too many practices and too much going on so I sat down with all the coaches and we picked one sport and it happened to be track at the time.
"I'm definitely rusty and it'll take a while. Volleyball is a technical sport."
Franklin, who redshirted her first year in volleyball, was named the GLIAC Track and Field Freshmen of the Year back in 2008.
She then spent three more years racking up track accolades like GLIAC Field Athlete of the Year, as well as the NMU record holder in the long jump, high jump and pentathlon.
Franklin said volleyball and track couldn't be any more different.
"You're training for completely different things," she said. "In track, I did the heptathlon, so I had to be ready to do basically anything. Everything is so much shorter for volleyball, like sprints and stuff.
"It's not mellow, but everything is short and explosive. Things aren't like that in track. Many events are, but it's not the same. "
And while Franklin, a River Falls, Wis. native, has some experience in volleyball from high school and her first year at Northern, she said her expectations were small because she simply doesn't know much about the team.
Heading into this weekend's games in Ohio at Lake Erie College and Ashland, Franklin has appeared in only six sets over five matches. She has one kill and an ace.
"I guess I didn't really have expectations (for this season)," she said. "I knew the team did really well two years ago, and I knew last year they had some rough patches so I didn't really know coming in to this year.
"I was just looking forward to a new experience basically. It's a brand new team for me, none of these girls were here my freshman year. I'm just being open to a new situation."
Amanda Monthei can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org