By John Kovach
HERMITAGE, Pa. — One of the highlights of Norb and Luann Franklin’s lives is following the gymnastics career of granddaughter Brittany Franklin, who won a USA Gymnastics national championship last spring.
“She is very competitive. She amazes me how strong she is. She is a little tiny thing and weighs only 85 pounds. She is very muscular and tough,” said Norb Franklin, formerly of Brookfield and a retired professional electrical engineer who now lives in Hermitage, Pa.
Brittany, the daughter of Laura and Tom Franklin of Carrollton, Texas, won a Level 9 Junior 4 age-group all-around gold medal at the USA Gymnastics Western National Championships in Bartlesville, Okla., on May 10, while competing against state champions from 26 other states.
Tom Franklin is a 1984 graduate of Brookfield High and a former Warriors basketball player who went on to win four basketball letters at Carnegie Mellon University.
Brittany tied for first place with an all-around score of 37.925 to win a gold medal, placing first on uneven bars (9.575), and floor exercise (9.65), and taking runner-up on balance beam (9.55).
She spearheaded her Region 3 team to first place in Level 9. The team consisted of the best gymnasts from seven states — Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.
Nicknamed “Frankie,” Brittany has trained at Texas Dreams at Everybody Fits since she was 6 years old and in the first grade at Castle Hills Elementary School in Carrollton.
“I have seen her compete frequently. We traveled to Chicago and Santa Anna, Calif., to watch her compete,” said Norb. “She is quite a bit like Tom but her mother [Laura also] is quite competitive. [Brittany] is a sweet little girl but loves to compete.”
Laura is a native of Dallas, Texas.
Norb emphasized that Brittany’s “training is incredible and she loves the training. She trains 30-40 hours a week. That’s incredible and a full-time job besides going to school.”
Norb said that Brittany will be competing in the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy Coaches Spectacular next week from Jan. 14-16 in Covington, Ky., and that he and Luann may make the trip.
“It depends on the weather. We went to one of her meets in Indianapolis and got caught in a snow storm,” said Norb.
Norb said that Brittany, now 14, is the lone gymnast in the family, but her two brothers, Brian, 12, and Bradley, 9, both play basketball and soccer.
Norb also had another athlete in the family — his oldest son, Mark, a 1982 Brookfield graduate.
Norb said Mark made Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in 1982 when he was a senior baseball player for Brookfield High by hitting two grand slam homers in the same inning as a switch-hitter.
Norb and Luann also have a daughter, Norann Bianco, a 1988 Brookfield graduate who now is a sixth-grade teacher in Sharon.
Brittany already has begun training at level 10 with the goal of winning another Western National Championship this spring.