Doane College is proud to announce that football coach Matt Franzen has been selected for the second consecutive year as the nominee from the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) for the NAIA Coach of Character Award. Each conference is eligible to nominate one coach for this award. Franzen, in his sixth year as head coach for the Tigers, led Doane to a 7-3 record this past season and a Top 25 national ranking.
The NAIA Coach of Character Award is an annual award given to a head coach of an NAIA institution. The nominee must be employed by the institution a minimum of five years and must be clearly outstanding in embracing the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, methods of teaching character through sport, and community leadership through volunteering, service or other means.
During his time at the helm of the Tiger program, Franzen has instilled six standards of performance that the players and staff are expected to uphold. The areas which he emphasizes are professionalism, integrity, excellence, team before self, risk/reward awareness and an ever-expanding worldview.
Doane College President Jacque Carter had the following to say, "Coach Franzen's leadership was even more evident in April 2012, when we suffered a tragedy, as one of our football players was killed in a single vehicle accident. A teammate was the driver of the vehicle. In the immediate days following this accident, Coach Franzen was the ‘rock' that supported our players and coaches. He arranged team meetings and opportunities for players and coaches to come together for fellowship and support and to share stories about their lost friend. In addition, Coach Franzen made it a priority for the players on the team to attend the funeral service, and arranged for two charter buses to transport the team, a four-hour trip one way. During the funeral and at the family's request, Coach Franzen shared stories and provided anecdotes about our lost player. He did a wonderful job."
This past year, Franzen established a weekly program of speakers who presented topics to his team dealing with the six standards of performance that he builds his team on. He also had speakers discuss the importance of academics. A senior team member who was involved in a fatal drunken driving car accident that was mentioned earlier, gave the final presentation. He voluntarily shared his experience with the rest of the team and made it into a life lesson.
Anthony Dunn, the GPAC Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 2011, had the opportunity to learn from Coach Franzen during his four years at Doane. He shared in a letter of recommendation about Coach Franzen several areas in which he learned about character from both actions and words.
"The big rule that Coach had was ‘don't let your teammates down,'" Dunn wrote. "He rebuilt the relationship between the program and the community. During fall two-a-days, he gives each freshman a big brother, or mentor, and does a lot of team building activities. The most fun individual day every season was Youth Day. Everything he asked us to do, he does too, and this is why we loved playing for him."
Franzen, a 1994 Doane graduate and a four year starter at offensive guard, was named to the NAIA All-America First Team following his senior season. He has been the head coach at Doane since 2007. Franzen resides in Crete with his wife, Lacey, and their daughter, Anna.
Story by Kirsten Dargy, GPAC Intern and Cody Vance, Doane College Champions of Character Liaison