Jamie Franks is the men’s head soccer coach at The University of Denver. The University of Denver is a NCAA Division I Institution located in Dever, CO. The University of Denver is a member of the Summit League alongside other schools such as: Oral Roberts, Western Illinois University, and Omaha University.
Jamie has been with the University of Denver for five years now. In five seasons, the head coach of the 2016 National Coaching Staff of the Year has put together a record of 67-24-13, improving Denver's record since Franks joined the staff as an assistant in 2012 to 102-41-21. Combined as a player and coach, Franks is 201-68-38 in college soccer, reached five of the last 13 College Cups, and winning a national championship at Wake Forest as a player in that span.
In this interview, Jamie talks about his coaching background and how he got started in coaching. He also talks about athletic and academic scholarships, and gives athletes a sense of the recruiting timeline. He also gives athletes a realistic outlook on receiving athletic scholarships to play college soccer. This is an interview you do not want to miss, Enjoy!
Jamie Franks: Head Men's Soccer Coach at the University of Denver.
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Topic 1: Coaching Mentees
Jamie talks about a few people he has worked with or coached for that are now having very successful careers in the coaching world. Jamie says that what you give everyday, will determine the outcome of your success.
Topic 2: Coaching Background
Jamie talks about his background in soccer, how he started playing, and talks about the different teams he has played on. Jamie says he knew soccer was his passion, but playing was not his purpose and he wanted to get into coaching. Jamie then was offered a coaching position at Wake Forest where he spent seven years. He has now been with University of Denver for nine years.
Topic 3: Pregame Rituals
Jamie says he always meditates before a game, works out on the day of the game, and stays away from coffee close to game time. He also says he tries to not be too involved with the players when they are warming up, because he does not want to escalate their nerves. He also talks about some pre game rituals that his players do.
Topic 4: Recruiting Story
Jamie says his favorite recruiting stories are about individuals who really wanted to be a part of a team, and things went in their favor achieving a lot of success. Jamie reminds athletes that someone is always watching them and that they watch how athletes behave even after a game is over.
Topic 5: Realistic Outlook on Athletic Scholarships
Jamie says that he believes sometimes people do have unrealistic scholarship expectations and that the likelihood of getting a full ride scholarship is not that high. He also reminds athletes to do their homework and research the schools they are interested in. He urges athletes to look into resources that the school offers in regards to financial aid.
Topic 6: What's the Process Look Like Before Talking About Scholarship Money?
Jamie says that it is a case by case basis for when the conversation about money should happen. He says that if a school is way out of your price range then the conversation probably needs to happen earlier. Jamie also says that the school you go to needs to fit your academic profile and talk about the possibilities of academic scholarships.
Topic 7: Recruiting Tips:
Jamie's biggest advice to anyone going through the recruiting process is to find out what your main objectives are and what you are looking for in school. He also talks about playing Division I soccer verse Division III.
Jamie Franks gives us valuable advice about scholarship money, and how important it is for athletes to do their research on schools they are interested in.
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Jess Gregory 0:08
Alright, how's the sound still? Okay.
Jamie Franks 0:13
I hear something in the background.
Jess Gregory 0:16
It kind of sounds windy. Yeah, yeah, I'm not sure what happened there. Oh, not went away. Okay, awesome. All right. We'll get started then. Alright everyone, thanks for joining me today I am here with Jamie Franks. He is the head men's soccer coach over at the University of Denver. How are we doing today, Jamie?
Jamie Franks 0:37
Good. Good. Thanks for having me.
Jess Gregory 0:39
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for joining me, how are things out on Colorado?
Jamie Franks 0:43
Oh, good. I was just trying to find silver linings and, you know, provide student programming for the athletes and just trying to find areas that we can control and with so much uncontrollable things happening right now. We're just trying to focus on the things that we can Control and just trying to be grateful, you know, for the, you know, for the things that we do have.
Jess Gregory 1:06
Yeah, absolutely. That's a good way to look at it. There's no reason to be negative at this time. Although it is easy to kind of go down that rabbit hole, so good to stay positive. Um, well, I'd love to learn some more about you and hear more about how you got into coaching and how you ended up over at Denver.
Jamie Franks 1:27
Yeah, so, uh, you know, I grew up in New Jersey, you know, very outside Philadelphia, and I grew up on just a small town team, and the talent team had, you know, unparalleled success. I think we won five or six or seven state championships when I was younger, and I had always played up an age group. And so by playing up an age group, I had to think quicker, I had to play quicker and I wasn't always the most athletic guy and so that, you know, that was really, really good for me, and I think when I was 1415 years old, You know, then I moved to PDA, and I played for them. And that was just an even higher level of experience, there's more accountability. There's more ownership that I needed. And that was just such a wonderful experience. And, you know, we want the championships there. And then one regional championships. And, you know, we it was a really, really good experience for me, because so many of my teammates on that PDA team played division one soccer at super, super high levels. And I just thought like, that was the first like, real real time that I kind of had bought into the process, like, okay, I was driving an hour and a half to practice, you know, each way and it was like, you know, I wasn't gonna waste any time that I had. And I was fortunate to represent our team national team and be in some youth youth teams growing up and I think my college decision was one that really kind of narrowed myself like, Man, that This is something that I do when I get older I was infatuated by the way that the college coaches sold their school talk to me just the whole process itself and and um you know back when there was no Academy like no no da you know you were recruited off a ESP or or or different sorts of camps and and I think when I started realizing that like I had you know that I had that that I would have a lot of opportunities to go and play individually in soccer. I started to really narrow down like, Okay, well what did I want from the experience? And I didn't think I the first time I stepped foot on campus at Wake Forest, I was like, well, this might be too much for me like this is that God gates are guarding getting me get into school. And as I continued, that was my first visit. You I stayed with well hosmer on campus who was like a two time all American goalkeeper and you just just my experience with him and listening to what his student athlete experience was like, it gave me just a lot of good insight on like, what, what it was really like and when I started going around to the to these other schools and started taking my official visits and my own official visits, there was only really one school that kind of told me that I wasn't that smart that I wasn't that good at soccer that it was gonna be really hard and really kind of talked more about character skills than anything else like really didn't mention, oh well we're this equipment or we're you know, we have this stadium or there's so many pros we had, it was all processed and it is stuff and I went to Wake Forest and we and I think we went to ACC regular season championships. We won the national championship, we went to three Final Fours had 19 guys go pro in four years, just just just an unbelievable amount. My success and what I take away most is my friendships and the the this belief in culture, and so when I, you know, I went pro I got drafted, you know, and the reality is, uh, you know, I wasn't good enough. throughout my whole career, I was more of a luxury player. And when I finally got to the pros, it wasn't good enough. And when I'm 23 years old, I'm 24 years old, I've bounced around in the minors, and I kind of realized, like, well, this isn't my path. You know, I know that soccer is my passion, but this is not really my purpose just playing you know, in the lower leagues and and I knew that I wanted to go back to college to at least get my my master's degree, and then I was going to try to figure out a little bit more, you know, where, you know, where my future would go and I went back to Wake Forest and I started as a video Ops, or video specialist and director of office And volunteer. And so an opportunity at the University of Denver came up for Bobby muse. He's the one who recruited me originally to Wake Forest as the assistant coach, we started winning and then he got the head coaching job at Denver.
He always tried to convince me not to go play and just start to try to coach and and I kind of always knew our paths would converge. And I just got super, super lucky because, you know, I went out there, I worked for Bobby. And we started winning there. And after, you know, three, four short years, he had an opportunity to go back to wake forest to be the head coach, and I was at Denver, I was just finishing up my master's and Ms in organization and leadership with like a focus in people human capital. And at that time, you know, I was offered the head coaching position at 28 years old. And so I kind of only knew two circles. I knew Wake Forest and I knew Denver and my thing was, I was just going to try to give as much as I could to both of those programs. And so I spent seven years at Wake Forest as a player to coach and then, you know, at Denver now I'm going on my ninth year. But you know, there's just been one shared view that I've had and and it's from the time that I decided to commit to Wake Forest as a student athlete was that I was going to give as much as I could. And in return, I have actually probably have taken way more and and and I've been a benefactor of all those, you know, Davidovich and Bobby Muse they're legendary coaches and and and how they run programs and how they develop people. You know, I'm just caught off that tree. And so I feel really fortunate from the time that I was really young from my town team, having a really big time coach there and teaching me the game and to my PDA coaches, to my weight coaches. I just feel like I've been very fortunate to be in the right communities in the right spots at the right times.
Jess Gregory 7:50
Yeah, absolutely. Well, they do say that the coaching world and really the sports world is small, smaller than we know you know, people are connected and they stay connected. And that's always the nice part about it, I think is being able to network and know people and, you know, build those relationships throughout the years. They don't just end when you stop playing, you know? Yeah, I also had the pleasure of interviewing Bobby. He's a cool dude, do you have any kind of like fun stories? Do you remember playing under him?
Jamie Franks 8:19
Haha. I mean, yeah, where to begin? So I'm happy to be censored now. Um, you know,
I think I think, you know, playing for him and coaching for him. He's got a sort of passion every day, and he's got a sort of accountability every day, that drives the best out of you. And, you know, it's not for all players. You know, because there's, there's a transparency, there's an honesty that happens. And so, you know, I think the biggest thing that I take away is just, you know, how do you have, you know, the guy never gets out worked. And every day he's making sure that he's one of the hardest working guys and so that's a leader by example. And you know, So from from an assistant coach to a head, you know, to a head coach to a colleague, you know, to now an adversary of mine, like, you know, I just really really respect the heart. He goes after it every day.
Jess Gregory 9:10
Yeah, absolutely. Sounds like he would have some pretty good mentors, which leads me to ask Do you have any kind of mentees that you've been helping them get into the coaching role and and anyone that in particular, maybe you're excited to see them go on and and do great things as well?
Jamie Franks 9:27
Yeah, I think all the guys that you know, Denver success came from a community of people right. And and we did something that hadn't happened in 40 years in college soccer, which is going undefeated, back to back regular seasons. And, and, you know, Ryan Hopkins now is the head coach of San Diego State. You know, he was my assistant, Zack Haynes is the head coach of high point University. Now he was an assistant. Clayton Zeeland is a North Florida. He's the associate head coach there. And so like in a weird way, my trip is small, but it's growing fast and ultimately I think that's where a little bit of our setback came in this past season is is we've had so much You know, when you're trying to do culture first and high demand high accountability, you need assistants that are you know, around and the challenges that I've had is is you know setting these guys up for their first head coaching job and then pushing them out the door only after you know 1416 months is tough, it's the right call for them and I'm so happy for them but it's been a challenge to kind of maintain teach cold you know, and cultivate this sort of you know, give first mentality that we have and so so proud of all those guys and you know, it is cool to you know to be around those those guys and and and we came up balls assisting coaches and I think sometimes sometimes the head coaches like make a joke. Uh, you know of it is like that I have more friends as assistance. And you know, that's just my age group and now though you're seeing in the past four years, a lot of my friends get home to coaching jobs and my advice always to everybody is whether you're a volunteer and operating, you know, a system to assistant one like what you give every day will will will determine your outcome and there's too many people that are trying to take from things and climb up ladders and I think if you're just there to try to make the team and the place and the student athletes better you know your time will come and you know, hopefully you get lucky like I did.
Jess Gregory 11:33
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, it's a small world out there so it's kind of cool to see your your tree growing a little bit. Yeah. Now kind of a silly question, but having coached and played for so long do you have any kind of like pregame rituals or superstitions that you just have to do before every game?
Jamie Franks 11:52
I did as a player Tom, I used to have triggers and I used to have all these type of breathing. You know, I still meditate always before games. I try not to have coffee anywhere close to the game that doesn't ever seem to seem to do right by me. I always work out on the day of a game you know, just the way from the time that I wake up in the morning and you know, where I put my focus into preparing for the walkthrough or preparing for my speeches throughout the day. I understand that my words are important on game day and and and so rituals habits you know, I think the one thing that as a coach I try not to like be too much involved in is the warm up because like one bad touch or a bad warm up, you know, I know that sometimes I can I can make it worse, you know, from the pliers and and and so I try to kind of stay stay away from them during those moments. So yeah, probably you doing it the wrong way a few times.
Jess Gregory 12:51
Yeah, you gotta live and learn, right. It's kind of funny though, that that you mentioned some of the things that you do before games as a coach because I think a lot of times kids think you just get up and you go to the game, and then the game's over and you're done. You know, they don't realize how much you guys put into things before and after matches. So do you kind of have any funny player superstitions that you've noticed? And you don't have to call out your players by name? But do do any of them do anything kind of funny?
Jamie Franks 13:20
Yeah, I think if anybody's ever been in a locker room, they know that all guys have different, you know, they might wear certain underwear or they might do their hair a certain way or, you know, the music that they listen to, you know, for us, you know, that the main goal of our program is to bring the best version of yourself every day and and there's an authentic ness to the way that everybody was raised and the environment that they were raised in, that kind of brings this authentic ness to what they are and who they are. And so we never try to suffocate them on that side of things. You know, but for us, we're just trying to help them understand like to be at your best, there's a certain preparation that's that's needed to put whether you train at 830 in the morning, every day or whether You're playing at seven o'clock. And so I think be helping them understand heart rate variability, meditation, you know, all these type of, you know, pregame factors will help prepare them to be at their best during the game, but during the game, it's just about controlling what you can control your positioning your work right and your mentality. And if you do that, you know, soccer is an unfair sport and sometimes it won't go your way. But we're, we're huge believers that if you do the process, right enough times, you know, you're going to swing probability in your favor.
Jess Gregory 14:33
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of times too, people think that it's a superstition, if you like, want to listen to the same song every game or, you know, you have to wear the same socks, but really, you're just kind of getting into a routine, you know, and wanting to be prepared and do the same thing and kind of get ready for it. So I just like to ask and see what people like to do.
Jamie Franks 14:51
But no, I'm not. If anybody knows me, I'm not superstitious at all. I'm just believer that process equals outcome and what you you know, and what you put In the process and what you put in every day, you know is going to yield success.
Jess Gregory 15:04
Yeah, absolutely. Um, now let's kind of switch gears a little bit, I'd love to talk to you about some recruiting. Um, you shared your recruiting story kind of a little bit already. But can you think of a, you know, a good recruiting story that you could share as if though we were on a recruiting panel?
Jamie Franks 15:20
Just in just in terms of what type of story like, like, if there's
Jess Gregory 15:25
a player, you remember back in the day that you're like, Oh, we started this process and kind of moved through. Since every story is different. It's always nice for kids to kind of hear how a player went through the process.
Jamie Franks 15:36
Yeah, so I think that there's, there's a reality that like, you know, when you're in recruiting, it's just, it's just, you never know who's watching. And, you know, if you listen to the people that were on my coaching trees, they were assistant coaches, and now they're head coaches just two or three years later. And so, you know, my favorite recruiting stories are the ones that you know, The the the individual really, really wants to be a part of a team. And he kept trying and kept trying and kept trying. And then something happened and something shifted and then all of a sudden, they were wide open and they came and they had tons of success. And so soccer is such a such an objective sport that I that I would, you know, everybody's watching what you do, the way that you carry your bag, what time you show up for training, you know, you know, how, you know, when you see your parents after the game does your parents grab your bag, like, you know, there's a lot of insight that you can get into, you know, the character of, you know, the individual and so I just always urge everybody to, you know, understand that, you know, you don't know who's watching and most importantly, you don't know what network they're connected to.
Jess Gregory 16:43
Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Um, now let's kind of talk about some realistic aspects of recruiting and you don't have to speak directly to Denver. Just kind of in general, what is like the realistic outlook of receiving a partial or a full athletic scholarship.
Jamie Franks 17:00
Um, you know, low, low for full scholarship. I mean, you know, there's only 9.9 in Division One soccer and so you're going to try to spread that throughout a team of 27 um, you know, I think what hurts is that a lot of people watch football and basketball and they go full scholarship and you know, like, you read some articles, and they're just not that informative of like, what men's soccer recruiting looks like. And that, you know, I think that that leads them down different paths. I would say that, you know, your ability to fill out FAFSA, your ability to make sure that there's financial aid contribution, you know, one school you might get no money and the other school you might get $40,000 and so it's so institutional base with, with academic merit money with with with financial aid, you know, with athletic scholarships, and different schools have different, you know, vehicles to make it all work. And so I think it's more about understanding what your objectives are. You know, what you're trying to get from the student athlete experience. And then I think you can start to really narrow yourself down. We tell kids, you know, all the time that you know, they do their homework about what they're wanting out of the school, then they should be able to come up with a list of 20 or 30 schools that fit that profile. And then it's their job to be, you know, self advocate for them, you know, you know, for their situations, and, you know, financially is normally like one of the last conversations and so it's, it's just important that you're understanding like, Hey, can I afford this school? And how can I try to make it you know, affordable?
Jess Gregory 18:34
Yeah, absolutely. That's just one of the reasons I like to ask that question because I know I've coached volleyball at the college level and it is a little bit different, but we are definitely not football or basketball either. So I think a lot of kids have this preconceived notion that if they make it to the college level, that means they're getting a full ride and they get all their books and everything paid for but it's nice to kind of have that realistic outlook and and know a little bit more about what's going to happen so you're not disappointed when you get to that point. conversation.
Jamie Franks 19:01
Yeah, and I also think it's just important to understand like what the school has to offer the resources of the school. So it's a financial aid, is it academic merit? Oh, man, if you get, you know, 30 points higher on your AC T, you get this much higher on, on on on merit money. I mean, every school is different. And so I think understanding the real is the realization of like 9.9 scholarships spread around 27 players, you know, and if Jimmy's mom says that she had a full scholarship, like you might want to, you know, fact check that a little bit and and, and so there's, it's just important to, you know, do your research. Mm hmm.
Jess Gregory 19:34
Yeah, it's definitely good for kids to hear to that everyone is different. So maybe a kid did get a full ride somewhere, maybe they had the money for it, but the program you're looking at, might have a different process. So not to be discouraged by that. And you also kind of mentioned a little bit about not talking about it at certain stages. So what's kind of another realistic timeframe to start talking about money? Is it at the beginning when you first send them Email, are you building that relationship?
Jamie Franks 20:02
Yeah, I think that's it's always case by case by case basis. You know, I think I think if the school is really expensive and you think it's way out of your reach, then that conversation probably needs to happen earlier, you know, and if they don't have financial aid, or if they don't have academic merit, then that just might be a reach school. And so I think it's really important when you're, you know, putting together your profile schools, you know, that it is something that's feasible for yourself and your family. Yeah. And I think personally, I think that that's probably the biggest challenge is that some prospective student athletes don't want to have that conversation with their parents. And to me, that is like the first real conversation to better understanding what is going to be a good fit here, because, you know, you know, you there's ways to make sure that you're not going in depth.
Jess Gregory 20:46
Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. Well, you also mentioned a little bit earlier, too, that there's the academic side of things as well. So if you're getting good grades or you have a great AC t s a t score, right, you can sometimes combine both of those or academically made Make a little bit more scholarship money than you would athletically correct.
Jamie Franks 21:04
I mean, this sounds crazy coming from a soccer coach but I can't I don't understand why people would go to a school if it wasn't going to fit what their academic profile was that what they want it you know that that's that that's crazy to me because we're there as student athletes and so we've been fortunate you know, we have the top GPA in the country we have for for the past six years, you know, and that sort of culture is is is is more about you know, it's more about like coming in and trying to get the most out of the experience and and you know, you have to align to make sure that what you're looking at for school is going to fit from from from a soccer from a school and from from a social aspect of it. So, um, you know, for me academics is drives everything else because that's that, you know, that's the thing that's that you're going to be with your whole life. Even if you get play pro for 10 years, you're 32 when you're finished playing Pro, like you need your degree fall back So, I, I always chuckle when I hear like that question, oh, I made this decision for soccer. It's like, well, there's two other parts of it. There's a there's a school part. And there's also a social part to it. Right?
Jess Gregory 22:12
Yeah, absolutely. You definitely have to find your right fit. And absolutely, scholarships will fit in there somewhere. So now, I don't want to keep you too long. I know you have lots of meetings and such going on you're busy guy. So I want you to just leave us with some of your top tips for recruiting for kids, you know, things that you like to see just to give them something to end with.
Jamie Franks 22:35
I think my best piece of advice for anybody that's going through the recruiting processes is find out what your main objectives are. And I think that you know, that if you really rank your list of objectives, and then you make sure that the top four or five or six of those things are getting accomplished with the decision. I think you're always going to make Value driven decision. You know, I think too many times, the thing that worries us the most, or the thing that we're uncertain about that drives our fear and emotionally, then it kind of takes over. And all of a sudden, we're letting something drive this decision that, like, off of the values or objectives chart is not at the top, but it's the one that we're most worried about. And so, uh, you know, for all players, I think it's really important to kind of outline, you know, what, what do you value in this experience? And I think then when you start to kind of go through the process yourself, you're gonna, you're going to start to understand like, Okay, this school doesn't have the major that I want, or, you know, this school doesn't have the social aspect that I want. And so it becomes a lot easier for you to kind of go through this process of understanding, okay, this is personally what I want out of the experience.
Jess Gregory 23:49
Yeah, that's a great tip. I appreciate that. Again, I think it is finding the right the right fit for you. And I know a lot of times kids might think that oh, I can only go division one. That's the The only place and I know you're a division one coach, but a lot of times there are other programs that fit just as well. So I think they just need to look for it right?
Jamie Franks 24:08
Well, I've had, you know, I've had two brothers, and they both go to play division one, and they decided to play Division Three, and their reasons were different. You know, one, one of my young my youngest brother wants to go study abroad. And then that was something that was so important to him because he wanted to learn Spanish and he wanted to go immerse himself in the culture. And so all of a sudden, D one really wasn't an option for him. Because, you know, you can't do that, you know, you can't do that at the division one level, you can't study abroad. And then my older brother was driven more to the social and to the academic part of it. And so their experiences were awesome. They they had unbelievable friends, they had unbelievable success on the field as players and captains of their of their of their teams and, you know, they loved you know, their experience. And so, I think so many people always get caught up in D, D, one, D two, D three, and my thing is more about like finding out what you want out of the experience. And then I think the rest of it kind of will align together.
Jess Gregory 25:04
Yeah, absolutely. And then one day you'll find yourself doing your rituals before. before a game before you know it. Right? Yeah. Absolutely. All right, Jamie. Well, I really appreciate you sitting down and chatting with me today. Hopefully, we're back out on the field soon. But if that, you know, maybe we'll all just sit down and kind of chat again. We'll see. Yeah,
Jamie Franks 25:24
well, thanks for your time and, you know, go mental.
Jess Gregory 25:28
Yeah, absolutely. All right. We'll see ya.
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