Smiles in Happy Valley: James Franklin says family surprised him with recent return home
James Franklin had to spend the 2020 college football season away from his family. His youngest daughter, Addison, has sickle cell disease and is at a higher risk for complications with COVID-19. So, during the offseason, the Penn State head coach and his wife made the decision to spend the season in different locations.
While Franklin was in State College leading the Nittany Lions, his family was staying in Florida.
This week, Franklin got a really nice surprise. His family returned to Happy Valley.
“They just came back last Friday and surprised me — which was awesome and which was great,” Franklin told NFL Network, according to 247Sports.
During the season, Franklin had no trouble talking about the struggles he faced with his family being away. However, he acknowledged that he wasn’t the only coach going through the situation, and recognized that it’s been tough for many families across the world.
“So this has obviously been a challenge for everybody, really, in the United States, but really across the world,” Franklin said. “Everybody’s had different challenges. You know, my family was gone since March. And that was hard, going through a season and going through it alone. You know, I had my football team and my coaches and my staff, but not my family. And my wife and my two daughters are what drive me and recharge me every single night.”
Even though Franklin’s family has returned from Florida, Franklin says they’re still living separately. The head coach has a space over the garage and only has minimal interactions with his wife and daughters right now.
“We’re still living separately,” Franklin said. “My youngest daughter has sickle cell disease and we just can’t put her at risk. So I’m living over the garage. About the most interaction I get with them is I put my hood on and my COVID mask and I stand at the windows around the house and scare them in the middle of the night. That’s about as much interaction as we’re getting.
“So I can’t wait for us to get back to normal so I can hug them and they can be back around our program and around our players. I miss them like crazy, but I know there’s a lot of people that are (dealing with) challenges and sacrifices right now.”
This is still great news for Franklin, and probably put a big smile on the head coach’s face, especially after such a long, exhausting season.