Jan. 30, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

Basketball was always an important part of the Stephens family while the siblings were growing up in Philadelphia, just 30 miles from the Cheyney campus.  Stephens was a member of the North Carolina Central University team that won a Division II title, and was inducted in the school’s Hall of Fame in 1995. 

Stephens-Franklyn played at Temple where she remains the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in program history, and is the only women’s player to have her number (No. 33) retired.  She also served as an assistant coach for the Owls and FIU, and was the first female to coach a Boys’ Varsity Basketball team in the state of Florida in 1997 at Coral Reef Senior High School, where she taught and coached until taking the women’s job at Cheyney.

“I had been gone for 20 years, so it has been great catching up after all those years,” said Stephens-Franklyn.  “It also makes both teams feel like family.  It’s not just the coaches who are family, but the teams are, too.  I look out for his team and he looks out for my team.”

Now that they are in the same place the siblings share much more than family as their offices are down the hall from one another, and the two teams frequently travel together.

Stephens, who thought his sister would be the perfect fit for the job, says that they have both benefitted personally and professionally because of the supportive atmosphere.

“We ask each other about so many topics about the game,” said Stephens.  “We pick each other’s brain.  I show her some things that might benefit her with practice, and she does the same with mine.  We both have a lot of strengths that we bring to each other’s programs.”

Stephens-Franklyn says she and her brother have always had a good relationship – he even surprised her by traveling to her first game as the boys’ varsity coach in 1997. 

“He’s always been supportive and encouraging and I want to be the same way with him,” said Stephens-Franklyn.  “We love what we do.  We both have a passion for basketball.  We both played and excelled in basketball.  We enjoy it.  We never have to argue who gets the gym first -- we work together.”

The pair always looks out for each other and trusts each other’s observations about the game.

“If I’m going to watch recruits at a high school, and the women’s team is playing before that, I’ll call her and let her know,” said Stephens.  “She does the same.  “There have even been situations when scouting opponents when my practice was running late, and she’s already watching the women and was able to stay a few minutes and scout the men’s game.”

Stephens-Franklyn is happy to be home, but says her mother Evelyn is ecstatic to have the whole family back together and loves to watch her grandchildren play, including Marilyn’s 13-year-old daughter, who is six-feet tall and beginning her basketball career.

Dominique Curry and Angel Stephens – part of the younger Stephens generation -- are both doing well for their teams as they are the second-leading scorers and leading rebounders on their respective squads. 

“You really have to hold back a little bit when they do something well,” said Stephens.  “You have to go into coach-mode instead of dad-mode or uncle-mode.  The good thing about it is that my son and my niece are two very good athletes that make a person proud as a father and uncle.  They’re very respectable, they listen, they work hard and they’re dedicated.  They have all the qualities of being a good collegiate athlete.”
The Wolves are 11-5 and are tied for first place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division standings, while the Lady Wolves are 8-6 this season and have posted a 3-2 mark in league play. 
Both teams host Shippensburg University on Jan. 31 in a PSAC East match-up.