PHOENIX, Arizona, January 7. MESSING up the coin toss was Missy Franklin's biggest fear as Grand Marshall of the 42nd annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
“I was up in the suite practicing tossing the coin,” Franklin told Swimming World over the phone before she boarded a plane back to Colorado. “I was so worried that I would flip it wrong and, like, hit one of the captains in the eye.”
Fortunately for Franklin, she didn't have to actually flip the coin, which she described as “…about four times bigger than a regular quarter.”
“The referee had me just hold the coin and then give it to him to do the actual toss,” Franklin explained. “I was like, thank you so much!”
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl capped off a whirlwind week for the Olympian. Franklin bounced between Colorado and Arizona several times from Dec. 28 — Jan. 4, to fulfill her responsibilities as Grand Marshall of the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Several highlights included being honored by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and meeting Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona.
Missy Franklin meets with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer during the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade [Photo Credit: Ann Damiano, courtesy of DA Franklin]
Surprisingly, Franklin's numerous appearances and responsibilities as Grand Marshall weren't the most exhausting aspect of the high school senior's trip; it was the couple of morning swim practices she snuck in with Scottsdale Aquatic Club (SAC) that really sapped her energy.
“They are in holiday training now,” she said. “The practices were really hard, so I guess that kind of took away from, like, the vacation part of [the trip].”
Getting in practices wherever and whenever she can is now the norm for the four-time Olympic gold medalist. After all, she is — technically — in the middle of high school swim season at Regis Jesuit in Aurora, Colorado. In fact, Franklin is so connected to her high school that Father Philip Steele, the president of Regis Jesuit, accompanied the Franklin family, and Franklin's Colorado Stars coach Todd Schmitz to Arizona for the Bowl game.
“My family, Todd, and Father Steele all came on the field with me for the coin toss,” Franklin said.
Even though Franklin is loyal to her high school, college football is a different matter. The self-proclaimed college football fan found her loyalties torn during the actual game.
“I was actually cheering for both teams,” she explained. “I like that Oregon is in the PAC-12 [Conference], since I'm going to Berkeley next year, but the quarterback of [Kansas] State is actually from Colorado.”
Oregon ended up with a 35-17 win over Kansas State, but the ever-cheerful Franklin felt that “both teams played really well.”
Perhaps Franklin's only regret from the trip was her inability to soak up the Arizona sun. “I tried to get tan, but it's just something I've never been able to do,” she said with a laugh. “I don't get tan lines… I get white lines.”
Despite her pigmentation problems, Franklin enjoyed her trip to the Valley of the Sun. In between appearances and practices, she had some time to spend checking out shops in Scottsdale and Phoenix with her mom, DA.
“Everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome,” she said. Franklin will surely be welcomed back whenever she pleases.